Monday, December 28, 2009

Bernard Kouchner’s prescription for war

The history of neoconservatism has been well documented as a trajectory from Left to Right and specifically from anti-Stalinist Left to pro-war and anti-conservative Right.

Kouchner was appointed to one of France’s highest offices of state in 2007 by the newly elected president, Nicolas Sarkozy

Kouchner is a self-styled progressive who has systematically supported war, supposedly for humanitarian purposes, ever since the late 1960s.

came under attack after Pierre Pean, a leading French investigative journalist, published an expose entitled Le Monde Selon K. Firing back, Kouchner rallied important friends to his defense including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Fashionable neocon litterateur Bernard Henri Levy called Péan “a dwarf.”

Kouchner cut his medico-political teeth in Biafra, the province of Nigeria where a vicious war of secession broke out in 1967. to Biafra under the auspices of the Red Cross. He was there by the beginning of September, and this was to prove his baptism of fire.

Kouchner and his colleagues did good work, but their sympathy for the victims of war quickly turned into active military support for the Biafran cause
An embargo on flights having been broken by Caritas and the Red Cross, planes carrying arms duly flew in from neighboring Gabon alongside the ones carrying medical supplies

In a highly unethical confusion of medicine and politics he and his Red Cross colleagues looked the other way used the military planes themselves called for their hospital staff to be armed so they could better fight for Biafran independence.

for Kouchner, neutral humanitarianism was rubbish. “Dr. K.” denounced the very concept of neutrality on which the Red Cross called for the Geneva Conventions to be changed so that medics could take sides in war

At the end of 1968, he created the Committee for the Fight Against the Genocide in Biafra He denounced “the horrors of this conflict perpetrated by Lagos in league with imperialist powers.”

When Biafra fell to Nigerian forces in January 1970, Kouchner saying that the Biafran “genocide” was the worst massacre in the world since the Holocaust. He was to reuse this simple formula on many occasions
his battle for Biafra coincided exactly with the geopolitical support de Gaulle’s government was then giving to the Biafrans (against the support given to Nigeria by Britain and America)
both sides were fighting for control of the oil reserves off the Nigerian coast.
admired de Gaulle’s minister of culture, Andre Malraux,
because he had fought with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War
attacked the Left for having abandoned the concept of “a people’s war” (la guerre populaire) and adopting what he denounced as a smug and morally disgraceful pacifism.
the political militancy of those doctors
that led to the creation of “Medecins Sans Frontieres” (Doctors Without Borders) in 1972
a “commando” of doctors who could travel at short notice to conflict zones.

What mattered to him was the media. Kouchner loved nothing more than promoting a cause
He eventually stormed out of MSF in 1979 and created a new association, Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World
Demographer Emmanuel Todd nicknamed Kouchner’s new group “Soldiers Without Borders” in 2007, in an article wondering what sort of a physician systematically prefers war to peace.
In 2008
said that French NGO’s were keeping him informed about the situation in the Gaza Strip and affording him a channel of contact with Hamas
The president of MSF issued a furious denial
Kouchner was rewarded for his politico-humanitarian activism by being appointed secretary of state for humanitarian action in the government
Socialist president Francois Mitterrand.
He vocally supported the first Gulf War in 1991
the Coalition bombed Iraq into a humanitarian catastrophe
He called for French foreign policy to be based on “morality”
formulate the “right of intervention” in the war’s aftermath
organized an airdrop

of food and aid to the Iraqi Kurds
this one was bitterly attacked
president of MSF, Xavier Emmanuelli
transformed by Kouchner into a spectacle for domestic television consumption
In 1992, Kouchner took up the cause of Somalia
When the rice was delivered to East Africa, Kouchner made sure the TV cameras were there
he rolled up his trousers and waded into the water to carry bags of rice
the “humanitarian” curtain-raiser
the disastrous U.S. expedition to Somalia, “Operation Restore Hope,” which started the very day of the broadcast, Dec. 5, 1992.
Kouchner also took a high-profile position on the Bosnian war,
fashionable opinion were swinging behind the Muslim cause
In June 1992, three months into the war
Kouchner and Mitterrand flew to Sarajevo,
When the story about Serbian “concentration camps” broke in August
In early 1993, Medecins du Monde spent an estimated $2 million on a publicity campaign demonizing the Serbs
Kouchner was later to admit that the campaign he sponsored had been based on a lie

the dying Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, who admitted in 2003 that the camps had not been “extermination camps” at all and that he had pretended otherwise in order to curry sympathy and military support from the West.
But it was over the Rwanda genocide in 1994 that Kouchner started to make serious enemies in France. One of them was Pierre Péan.
A veteran journalist who has written books
including an excellent account of François Mitterrand’s youthful work for the Vichy government, Péan disagreed violently with the popular view of Rwanda. He did not deny that Hutus had killed Tutsis
but he insisted that the reverse was also true. He further resented
the political instrumentalization of the genocide to blacken France’s name.
Pean produced a book on Rwanda and became an implacable opponent of the RPF regime in Kigali under President Paul Kagame.
Pean branded Kagame a dictator and a mass murderer
the Rwandan government
formally accused France of complicity in the genocide

Diplomatic relations with France were broken off in 2006 when a French judge issued arrest warrants for members of Kagame’s entourage on the basis that the president ordered the assassination of the two Hutu presidents (of Rwanda and Burundi) in April 1994, the event that all agree sparked the conflict.
Following his close study of the Rwanda story, Pean turned his ire directly on Kouchner to produce Le Monde Selon K
His chapter on Kouchner and Rwanda is particularly effective
He dwells at length on Kouchner’s influence trafficking,
Kouchner is in fact one half of France’s most powerful power couple: Christine Ockrent, his wife, is one of the most influential TV journalists in France and head of the holding company that owns all the radio and TV channels that France broadcasts abroad.
She is also a regular invitee to the meetings of the Bilderberg Group and the European Council on Foreign Relations
the great campaigner’s company, B.K. Consulting
was paid
by the French oil company

to produce a report supporting its construction projects in Burma
Kouchner has for the last 40 years consistently supported war as the means to solve humanitarian problems. He is a virulent interventionist who denounces his opponents as accomplices of dictators
John Laughland is director of studies at the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation in Paris,


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