How did France worsen its relationship with Turkey?

How did France worsen its relationship with Turkey?

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Several years back Turkey barred some French companies to participate in one of its arms procurement tender. Turkey doesn't allow French military air-crafts or ships to pass its territorial space. Moreover, the row continues in connection with a French parliament-bill that aims at recognizing Armenian genocide.

What is the root cause of the deterioration of French-Turkish relationship? And, when did it start to deteriorate? Why France is undermining its relationship with Turkey? Why is it so important to pass a bill that threatens the relationship?

On the other hand, Turkish-German and Turkish-Italian relationships seems not to affected.


First of all, France's goal is not to "undermine its relationship with Turkey" as you have implied. Instead, this is a product of France's policy of recognising what happened during WWI as a genocide.

I believe the most important part of your question is why has France been the most assertive when it comes to recognition of the Armenian genocide. This comes down to France's domestic politics since France has by far the largest Armenian diaspora population. The Armenian diaspora has always been more hardline about genocide recognition than Armenians in either Armenia or Turkey, and it has an influence in French politics.

Neither Italy nor Germany have been as aggressive in this regard, and consequently relations have not suffered. There was an informal boycott of Italian goods and companies about ten years ago, but that was to do with Kurdish issues rather than Armenian.

A related historical question is why France has such a large Armenian diaspora. Most Armenian survivors or deportees ended up in Syria and Lebanon, which became French mandates after the war. From there, they frequently emigrated to France and established the community that exists today.

As @T.E.D. suggests this kind of things is better understood from the inside. so here is how I see it from Paris.

President Sarkozy suddenly felt a hurry to push a so called "Armenian Genocide" law just before the last presidential election in order to rally the Armenian community which is quite influential in the French microcosm. That didn't help him to stay in for a second term, as you well know, but he gave probably little thought to the fact that that would nevertheless harm the French-Turkish relationship.

There is also probably some inward looking attitude of the French Right with regard to the adhesion of Turkey to the European Union and that might also have counted in Sarkozy's cunning plan.

Add to this the now well documented propension of the French intelligentsia to lecture the world and take a moral high ground regardless of its own track record in North Africa and elsewhere and you've got petty much the whole picture.

As for me, I've worked for Turkcell like ten years ago and I must say I was very impressed by what I saw and how dynamic and dedicated my young colleagues were (some of whom, I'm still in contact with). But I doubt this is well understood everywhere in today's France.

I don't think Turkish people should answer emotionally to this kind of events. I'd bet that one will probably witness less arrogance and misunderstanding in the future because people travel more and new generations on each side will take a more critical look at the sins of their respective ancestors.

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Few events in world history have had a more profound impact than that of World War One (1914-8). Although the German attempt to dominate Europe was thwarted in the end, the equilibrium of the region was also destroyed by the fierce fighting between its different elements.

At the beginning of November 1914, the Ottoman Empire . abandoned its ambivalent neutrality.

The Middle East was no less affected by the conflict. After four centuries of continuous rule, the Ottoman Empire collapsed, creating a vacuum that contributed to tensions between local inhabitants and external powers or interests. The 'war to end all war' had not achieved its aim.

At the beginning of November 1914, the Ottoman Empire, the world's greatest independent Islamic power, abandoned its ambivalent neutrality towards the warring parties, and became a belligerent in the conflict, with the sultan declaring a military jihad (holy war) against France, Russia and Great Britain.

The Ottoman Empire had recently been humiliated by setbacks in Libya and the Balkans. Participation in what had begun as a European war might seem to outside observers, therefore, to have been suicidal, but key elements in the government, impressed by German industrial and military power and motivated by dreams of imperial glory, greeted the expanding war as an opportunity to regain lost territories and incorporate new lands and nationalities into the empire.

In a pre-emptive strike, London immediately landed an Anglo-Indian force at Basra.

The Ottoman/Turkish army (some 600,000 troops divided into 38 divisions) was of an unknown quality. But with Germany as an ally, the Ottoman Empire represented a serious threat to the British Empire, so in a pre-emptive strike, London immediately landed an Anglo-Indian force at Basra, near the estuary of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. This was done to protect the Anglo-Persian oil pipeline, which was vital to the British navy, and to show the Union Jack in this strategically important area in the Persian Gulf.

Within weeks the Central Powers struck back with a surprise attack against Britain's 'jugular vein', the Suez Canal. This attempt, in early February 1915, to breach British defences on the Suez Canal and raise an Islamic revolt in Egypt, failed however, and resulted in heavy losses for the attackers.

Russo-Turkish wars

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Russo-Turkish wars, series of wars between Russia and the Ottoman Empire in the 17th–19th century. The wars reflected the decline of the Ottoman Empire and resulted in the gradual southward extension of Russia’s frontier and influence into Ottoman territory. The wars took place in 1676–81, 1687, 1689, 1695–96, 1710–12 (part of the Great Northern War), 1735–39, 1768–74, 1787–91, 1806–12, 1828–29, 1853–56 (the Crimean War), and 1877–78. As a result of these wars, Russia was able to extend its European frontiers southward to the Black Sea, southwestward to the Prut River, and south of the Caucasus Mountains in Asia.

The early Russo-Turkish Wars were mostly sparked by Russia’s attempts to establish a warm-water port on the Black Sea, which lay in Turkish hands. The first war (1676–81) was fought without success in Ukraine west of the Dnieper River by Russia, which renewed the war with failed invasions of Crimea in 1687 and 1689. In the war of 1695–96, the Russian tsar Peter I the Great’s forces succeeded in capturing the fortress of Azov. In 1710 Turkey entered the Northern War against Russia, and after Peter the Great’s attempt to liberate the Balkans from Ottoman rule ended in defeat at the Prut River (1711), he was forced to return Azov to Turkey. War again broke out in 1735, with Russia and Austria in alliance against Turkey. The Russians successfully invaded Turkish-held Moldavia, but their Austrian allies were defeated in the field, and as a result the Russians obtained almost nothing in the Treaty of Belgrade (September 18, 1739).

The first major Russo-Turkish War (1768–74) began after Turkey demanded that Russia’s ruler, Catherine II the Great, abstain from interfering in Poland’s internal affairs. The Russians went on to win impressive victories over the Turks. They captured Azov, Crimea, and Bessarabia, and under Field Marshal P.A. Rumyantsev they overran Moldavia and also defeated the Turks in Bulgaria. The Turks were compelled to seek peace, which was concluded in the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (July 21, 1774). This treaty made the Crimean khanate independent of the Turkish sultan advanced the Russian frontier southward to the Southern (Pivdennyy) Buh River gave Russia the right to maintain a fleet on the Black Sea and assigned Russia vague rights of protection over the Ottoman sultan’s Christian subjects throughout the Balkans.

Russia was now in a much stronger position to expand, and in 1783 Catherine annexed the Crimean Peninsula outright. War broke out in 1787, with Austria again on the side of Russia (until 1791). Under General A.V. Suvorov, the Russians won several victories that gave them control of the lower Dniester and Danube rivers, and further Russian successes compelled the Turks to sign the Treaty of Jassy (Iaşi) on January 9, 1792. By this treaty Turkey ceded the entire western Ukrainian Black Sea coast (from the Kerch Strait westward to the mouth of the Dniester) to Russia.

When Turkey deposed the Russophile governors of Moldavia and Walachia in 1806, war broke out again, though in a desultory fashion, since Russia was reluctant to concentrate large forces against Turkey while its relations with Napoleonic France were so uncertain. But in 1811, with the prospect of a Franco-Russian war in sight, Russia sought a quick decision on its southern frontier. The Russian field marshal M.I. Kutuzov’s victorious campaign of 1811–12 forced the Turks to cede Bessarabia to Russia by the Treaty of Bucharest (May 28, 1812).

Russia had by now secured the entire northern coast of the Black Sea. Its subsequent wars with Turkey were fought to gain influence in the Ottoman Balkans, win control of the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits, and expand into the Caucasus. The Greeks’ struggle for independence sparked the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29, in which Russian forces advanced into Bulgaria, the Caucasus, and northeastern Anatolia itself before the Turks sued for peace. The resulting Treaty of Edirne (September 14, 1829) gave Russia most of the eastern shore of the Black Sea, and Turkey recognized Russian sovereignty over Georgia and parts of present-day Armenia.

The war of 1853–56, known as the Crimean War, began after the Russian emperor Nicholas I tried to obtain further concessions from Turkey. Great Britain and France entered the conflict on Turkey’s side in 1854, however, and the Treaty of Paris (March 30, 1856) that ended the war was a serious diplomatic setback for Russia, though involving few territorial concessions.

The last Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) was also the most important one. In 1877 Russia and its ally Serbia came to the aid of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria in their rebellions against Turkish rule. The Russians attacked through Bulgaria, and after successfully concluding the Siege of Pleven they advanced into Thrace, taking Adrianople (now Edirne, Tur.) in January 1878. In March of that year Russia concluded the Treaty of San Stefano with Turkey. This treaty freed Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro from Turkish rule, gave autonomy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and created a huge autonomous Bulgaria under Russian protection. Britain and Austria-Hungary, alarmed by the Russian gains contained in the treaty, compelled Russia to accept the Treaty of Berlin (July 1878), whereby Russia’s military-political gains from the war were severely restricted.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Michael Ray, Editor.

The foreign policy of France between 1919 and 1939: the reasons for a descent into hell.

France, the first military power at the end of the First World War, was the first to be defeated in the Second. In this context, the French foreign policy, from 1919 to 1939, appears as a descent into the abyss. Probably because of its heroic resistance of 1940-1941, which was made possible by the obstacle of the Channel and by the courage of its people, the UK escapes this condemnation. Churchill makes us forget Chamberlain the ’blood and tears’ announced by the former have taken precedence over the’ ’peace for a generation’ promised by the latter after Munich.

These judgments interpret history in the light of its outcome, the Hitlerian aggression, and consider that the actors had to foresee it and do everything to avoid it. Their failure would be sheer stupidity, cowardice or treason. But the men of 1919, 1933 or 1938 were neither traitors nor cowards nor fools, at least not more than those who preceded and followed them they were men of their time.

This article will try to examine the foreign policy of France from 1919 to 1939, while forgetting June 1940. It will not dwell on the details of events but will look for the reasons of a tragedy that led on the Champs Elysées, from the Parade of victory, on July 14th 1919, to the arrival of the German troops, on the same avenue, on June 14th, 1940.

A/ A winner in fear of the hegemony of the loser.

As soon as November 1918, appears the contradiction that will dominate the diplomatic history of Europe during the twenty years that follow, a contradiction between, on the one hand, the appearance of a victory, and on the other, the reality of the power. The French armies had borne the brunt of the burden on the Western front where the war was won a French Field Marshall was commanding in 1918, the Allied forces. Germany had asked for an armistice but what about the reality of power in Europe?

A France of 40 million of inhabitants, with a declining population and an economy already upgraded in 1914, exhausted (1.4 million deaths!) and heavily indebted 40,000 km2 of its territory devastated 700,000 veterans permanently crippled swathes of its industry destroyed by the fighting and by the Germans when retreating.
A Germany of 65 million people, which has not known the invasion, is liberated from the local dynasties that weakened its unity and is strong of an industry whose production is double that of its enemy. At Versailles, Germany has lost some provinces but the French, Polish and Danish minorities were sources of conflict. Its actual loss is in the mineral resources of Lorraine and Silesia and in its overseas investments which were seized. As for its geopolitical environment, it has changed for the better: Poland has replaced the Russian Empire and to the south, Austria-Hungary, less docile than often asserted, has been replaced by fragile states as artificial as the old Empire. Mittel Europa is awaiting its master.

In other words, in 1918, everything figure predicts that the power which can exercise its hegemony in Europe is Germany, the country defeated on the battlefield! The French had understood it but the British and the Americans refused the solution they proposed, i.e the dismantling of Germany. Anyway, it is doubtful that such a goal was achievable.

From there stems the tragedy of the foreign policy of France from 1919 to 1939. Winner of the greatest war of all time, France is paradoxically led by fears because she is aware of her intrinsic weakness. This fear requires the full implementation of the Treaty of Versailles, the occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 and the refusal to disarm as was asked by the Americans and the British.

In this context, from Stresemann to Hitler, the goal of the foreign policy of Germany remains the same: to give to their country a role in Europe commensurate to its power. The means to achieve this goal are different between the two men and it is not a detail as the history will prove but the logic remains the same, to repair a ’injustice’ of history, to erase the defeat and thus the victory of France. Given the horror that will follow, it seems impossible to avoid moral judgment and yet, the logic that led the young democracy of Weimar to condone the violations of the Treaty of Versailles by the Reichswehr has its logic: international relations are based on the competition and the cooperation of states on the basis of their relative power Germany wanted to occupy its rightful place in the international life.

France, during the negotiation of the peace treaty, attempted to obtain guarantees for her safety. Clemenceau gave up his claim to the annexation of the Rhineland, politically untenable, in exchange for an alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom but the refusal of the US Congress to ratify the treaty left France isolated, which will have no other choice that to cling to the full implementation of the treaty and to build alliances with the new states of Eastern Europe (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania).

B/ The British refusal to see the European reality.

Unlike France, which has carried out the war with the conviction of defending its territory and its existence, the United Kingdom, after 1919, horrified by its human cost, nurtures doubts about its decision in August 1914. Some argue that it has been dragged into a war that was not necessary, as a result of a continental system of alliances in which it should not have been engaged. In this context, the ‘’wilsonism’’ with its good intentions and its Protestant ethic of transparency and sincerity, has a profound echo in the public opinion.

The British and the French are pacifists, after the carnage, but the first ones are so with more conviction because they feel no direct threat to their security and because they do not see what profit they got from the war. It was not before 1938-1939 that the British public will begin to wake up from this stubborn refusal to see the German danger.

Moreover, the British diplomatic tradition reasserts itself in 1919 it dictates that no continental power should exercise hegemony a risk that only France represents with her victorious army occupying the left bank of the Rhine and her allies-satellites in Eastern and Central Europe, facing an unarmed and prostrate Germany and a Russia sent back to its steppes. For a large part of the British ruling class, France, either, does not deserve any attention since its ostensible power denies her concerns for her safety or even is a source of worries at the time of a revived colonial competition. In the Middle East, come to light the contradictions between the promises made by London during the war, to the Arabs, to the Jews and to the French. Furthermore, Paris does not follow Lloyd George in his crusade against the Kemalist Turkey where he leads Greece for its biggest misfortune. The tone turns sour between the two allies. The Secretary of Foreign Office, Curzon cannot stand Poincarré. In London, the philo-germanism of a part of the ruling class, relayed by the press, is coupled with an equally strong anti-French sentiment which will run until 1936 and beyond.

The fact is that, in 1920, the instinct of British diplomacy leads London to seek to limit the power of France. This reflex, which is the result of two centuries of history, is compounded by the mixed feelings awakened in the United Kingdom by the Treaty of Versailles which would be too tough for Germany and, anyway, doomed to be reviewed.

The success of Keynes’s book, ’The Economic Consequences of the Peace’ which announced the collapse of Germany because of the treaty of Versailles is an illustration of this analysis. No matter that it is easy to show, in retrospect, that it was not only biased and blind to the destruction suffered by France but factually wrong, as was proven by the rapid growth of the German economy after 1924, its influence was huge. From being the aggressor, Germany became a victim from victim, France the executioner. What is at stake is less the blinding of Keynes but the speed with which the British elite, for regret or even remorse for having been drawn into the war, by fear of the possible victory of Bolshevism in Germany and by prejudice against France, was ready to believe that the Treaty of Versailles was unfair.

No one noticed in London that the UK had just got its bounty before signing the treaty, with the delivery of the German fleet and the takeover of the colonies of the enemy that generosity was easy while the country remained safe from the immense devastation of the fighting and while the Channel ensured safety. It is therefore Paris which has the bad role, that of the beggar and of the bailiff. London and Washington may stand with the principles and contain the supposed intransigence of their ally.

Hard in the eyes of the British, the treaty is therefore reviewable. This is also a tradition of a country that does not believe in permanent solutions and sustainable architectures to solve the world’s problems. There are partial and temporary responses whose quality lies in their correspondence with the reality of the moment. Foreign policy is conceived as an endless task where pragmatism should dictate flexibility to serve the interests of the UK. In this context, the Foreign Office feels no recoil to the need to revise the Treaty of Versailles if experience teaches that it is unsatisfactory or does not found a stable order in Europe. Therefore, the British policy showed a great consistency from 1923 to the spring of 1939: its aim was to leave Germany peacefully regain its rightful place in the European society. Conversely, it sought to convince France to accept it by persuasion, by addressing her security concerns, by pressure and finally by a de facto trusteeship. In September 1938, after Munich, Britain could argue to have successfully managed the revision of the Treaty of Versailles, without a new war and without compromising the security of the French ally, sheltered behind the Maginot Line, strong of a powerful army and assured of the British guarantee. It is in this context that the ’peace for a generation’ promised by Chamberlain before an ecstatic people had its logic. The German demands were met nothing precluded a new agreement between London and Berlin. On December 6th, 1938, France and Germany signed a joint statement affirming their intention to develop their relations ’in a peaceful way’, while considering the question of their borders finally settled their borders (that is to say that of Alsace-Lorraine). Germany was not anymore a dissatisfied state and could be integrated in a new European order that would see the Continental divided between the West under the British leadership and the East where sooner or later, Germany and the USSR should fight.

In 1923, during the Rhur crisis, the British foreign policy might have returned to its roots by opposing the supposed French hegemony on the continent. The collision with France would have been unavoidable the rapprochement with Germany necessary. Disagreements were not wanting, quarrels and disappointments either till 1939 but they never went to a rupture. Indeed, the United Kingdom had noticed the speed of the German offensive of 1914 which reached the North Sea in a few days. It had concluded that its security should be ensured on the eastern border of France and of Belgium. If Clemenceau does not get that the Anglo-Saxon allies fulfill their promise to give their formal guarantee to France, London hiding behind the defection of Washington, the reality is that of a de facto British commitment to the French eastern border that took a multilateral form in 1925, with the agreement of Locarno and was reiterated in Berlin in 1936 and in 1938.

But this guarantee is not an alliance: Britain sees the France as a buffer state but not as an ally whose initiatives it supports. On the contrary, British diplomacy will do anything to avoid unwanted approaches of Paris, particularly in Eastern Europe, which may lead to a conflict in which the UK would itself be dragged. Alliances that France has tied with the eastern new states create in London distrust and concern: that unstable countries, weak and intransigent, benefit from a guarantee of France is not seen as a force of an ally but as a weight that can lead her not only to refuse any review of a bad treaty but to initiate hostilities to defend it. In the eyes of London, the policy of France should renounce any ambition beyond the Rhine only, western Europe matters for British security and if Germany moves eastward, it would be reassuring.

Finally, the British have to defend a vast empire whose existence is beginning to be challenged less by the claims of the peoples than by potentially threatening military powers. London knows it is unable to protect its extensive possessions against Japan or even Italy but it cannot abdicate its status as a world power. It must therefore arbitrate permanently between Europe and the overseas, the former being seen as an unpleasant duty and the latter as a vocation to preserve.

The reality was of a fundamental disagreement on the conduct of foreign policy in the post-war between the former allies, more or less acrimonious and more or less hidden. It faded only when France followed, after 1936, its neighbor to become its quasi-satellite after Munich.

C/ The 1919-1936 France leads an independent policy.

From 1919 to 1932, La France successively followed two seemingly antagonistic policies, the first one until 1924 based on the rigorous implementation of the treaties that led to the Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr in January 1923, despite the opposition of London, and the other, illustrated by the face-to-face between Stresemann and Briand based on the reintegration of Germany into the European mainstream after the Locarno Agreement.

The former makes possible the latter: in fact, the crisis of 1923 showed in Berlin, that a frontal resistance to the Treaty of Versailles was costly and, in Paris, that the use of force was equally so. Galloping inflation on one side and the crisis of the franc, on the other, led the two adversaries to compromise in 1924, Britain and the US siding with Germany for settling the issue of the reparations. The economic prosperity between 1925 and 1929 reduced the political and social tensions in both countries.

Stresemann did not give up the goal of the revision of the Treaty of Versailles, but he chose a peaceful and progressive approach with Briand, France did not disarm but understood that there would be no lasting peace without the return to normal international relations in Europe, that was to say with a German actor in its own right. Britain, for its part, had admitted it has to answer in one way or another to the security concerns of France if it wanted to avoid the recurrence of such a crisis. Finally, Belgium was moving away from France, after following her in the Ruhr and seeing its own currency dragged into the turmoil, and was getting closer to London.

The foundations were thus laid for a modus vivendi symbolized by the Locarno agreement (16 October 1925) in its strength and in its ambiguities. Indeed, if it first, recognizes the western borders of Germany and, secondly, adds a guarantee of them by the United Kingdom and Italy, it leaves aside the eastern borders of the Reich because of the German determination to refuse to give up getting their revision, revision which can only be achieved at the expense of allies of France. No surprise that this text has been considered as a success in London as it marked the renunciation by France to a policy of force and initiated her dissociation from her eastern allies. Then came the Briand/Stresemann years, years of European economic prosperity where the latter wanted to obtain the recognition of equality between European states, which started with the entry of Germany into the League of Nations, but might lead to the end of the limitations of armaments imposed by the Treaty of Versailles or, failing that, by the disarmament of France. The German chancellor knew that he was assured of the American and British support, to the outrage of Paris..

The crisis of 1929, which hit Germany first, was to sweep away this fragile upturn. After the death of Stresemann, the political success of the Nazis but also of the communists who both campaigned on the theme of rejection of the Treaty of Versailles signaled the end of this Franco-German rapprochement.

In France, 1930/31 appears in retrospect as the beautiful twilight of a great power. The gold reserves of the Bank of France had never reached such a high at the moment when the British Pound was devalued. The country could celebrate the greatness of the colonial empire during the triumphant exhibition of 1931. In this year, France was still able to block successfully a project of Austro-German customs union (September 3) supported by The US and the UK. In 1932, the French Prime Minister Tardieu resisted to an US-British pressure to disarm. But, 1932 is also the moment when the crisis starts to hit France.

This pas de deux vis-à-vis Germany where the British recommended conciliation and the French remained more or less suspicious, took a different look with the coming to power of Hitler. We see it today as a turning point but in a Europe where authoritarian regimes were common and seemed to many preferable to Bolshevism, the Austrian corporal, blessed by Hindenburg, could appear as a Germanic incarnation of this model. The conservative elites who govern the United Kingdom were, in this respect, particularly benevolent. In addition, the Führer knew how to accompany its threatening public speeches by reassuring private conversations. At first glance, Nazi Germany is a country which overcomes the chaos, revitalizes its economy and defeats communism. The anti-Semitism of the regime in a period when this prejudice is so widespread in Europe and in the US is hardly shocking, at least until the Kristallnacht (Nov 9th. 1938).

From 1919 to 1932, the Franco-British entente had gone through storms but has survived. Each side was convinced it needed the other to ensure its security and the stability of Europe. Far from changing this unstable state of affairs, the arrival to power of Hitler, at first, accentuated the contradictions between the two allies. Indeed, on the one hand, the British saw in it a new episode of a German revisionism that was not unjustified while on the other hand, the French concluded they were facing the eternal German militarism. The former reserved their judgment the latter wanted to put together a European coalition able to oppose the resurgence of the danger.

Germany left the League of Nations (October 14th 1933), tried to destabilize Austria and made public its rearmament (March 16th 1935). Facing this challenge, Barthou, the forceful and active French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not only refused any disarmament of his country but reaffirmed her alliances with the eastern European countries and initiated a rapprochement with Italy and the USSR. When Austrian Nazis murdered Chancellor Dollfuss (July 25th 1934), Mussolini mobilized on the Brenner and obliged Hitler to retreat. On April 14th, 1935, at Stresa, France, Italy and the United Kingdom could reiterate their determination to oppose ’any unilateral repudiation of treaties’ and on May 2nd, 1935, was signed the ‘’Franco-Soviet pact’’ in which each party agreed to assist the other in the event of unprovoked aggression. The USSR and Czechoslovakia did the same on May 16th.

As for the United Kingdom, it signed, on June 18th, 1935, the anniversary of Waterloo . a bilateral naval agreement with Germany, contrary to the Treaty of Versailles, without consulting or even notifying France.

D/ The political collapse of France.

In the summer of 1935, the France seemed to have responded effectively to the Nazi threat despite the British reservations. In fact, this house of cards was to collapse within months.

Mussolini dreamed of building an ’Italian Empire’ the cornerstone of which being Ethiopia. He believed, or pretended to believe that France had given him carte blanche during the negotiation of the bilateral January 1935 agreement that had settled colonial disputes between the two countries. He noted that the United Kingdom had always remained evasive on this issue. So he attacked Ethiopia on October 2nd 1935. This aggression embarrassed London and Paris which had to face the wrath of their public opinion in front of such a blatant case of a brutal and unjustified assault against a member of the League of Nations. But, neither wanted to alienate a country that, for the British, could threaten their lines of communication with their Empire and, for French was seen as a potential ally against Germany. As it often happens in such situations, by trying to reconcile the irreconcilable, the two countries failed all along the line: they got the indignity of abandoning Ethiopia but still managed to pop the Stresa Front. In any case, this break appears in retrospect inevitable: after Ethiopia, came Spain (July 18th 1936). The two democracies, especially the French Popular front government, could have hardly remained close to a country which supported wholeheartedly Franco, side by side with Germany. In fact, the international relations in Europe, under the dual pressure from Germany and the USSR, with the twin shadows of fascism and communism, were becoming more and more ideological, with, as a consequence, an irresistible movement of Mussolini towards Hitler.

With regard to the relations with the USSR, the responsibility for the deadlock lies in France. The Laval government made the activation of the Franco-Soviet Pact subject to the agreement of the other guarantor powers of Locarno and, in July 1935, refused to respond to the Soviet proposal of conversations between the military Staffs. The pact had lost any political and military significance. Anti-communism had won in Paris. However, here again, the question remains of the potential relevance of this alliance, even in the absence of French obfuscation. Indeed, geography made difficult maybe impossible a military agreement, as was proven in the spring of 1939, when neither Poland nor Romania wanted to open their territory to the Soviet troops, which therefore, could not, in any event, defend Czechoslovakia.

Finally, hit late by the economic crisis, France is sinking, from February 1934, into a lasting political crisis. The Republic seemed unable to respond to the political and economic challenges of the times while Italy, Germany and the USSR seemed to offer new ways to make politics. The country is torn apart scandals abound Far Right and Far Left prosper governments fall one after the other. It is in this context, when the French government has just resigned, that Germany announced the reoccupation of the Rhineland (March 7, 1936).

This event is a turning point. In London, it is seen as the end of the Versailles system, a system in which nobody believed any more. The Germans ’go home’ it is not a big deal. For France, it is a strategic disaster not so much as an advance of the German army towards its borders than because it closes off an advance of the French army towards the east. In other words, the reoccupation of the Rhineland means that the alliances with Poland and Czechoslovakia are now obsolete since France, stopped by the predictable enemy fortifications, cannot come to the aid of its allies. Still worse, Belgium denounces its military convention with France to declare its neutrality (14 October 1936). The French northern border is open.

In March 1936, the masks have fallen. France which, since 1919, had tried to reconcile the reality of a devastated country and her aspirations for security is powerless in front of the ascent of Germany. That day of March 1936, the France gives up her status as a great power. Indeed, distraught by the German rearmament, unable to find in herself the strength to react and weakened by her enduring political crisis, she abandons the responsibility of her foreign policy to the UK.

This is not to displease London. Now, French and British policies have the same goal, the defense of the Rhine. Conservative governments (Baldwin and Chamberlain) consider that their main adversary is the Soviet Union and, as such, are expecting (and hoping) a confrontation between the two totalitarian enemies. To guide the ambitions of Germany eastward could contribute to this outcome.

From 1936 to 1939, the foreign policy of France followed the British one. Whether it is the Spanish Civil War where a Popular Front government refuses to help a leftist government fighting a military insurrection supported by Germany and Italy, the Anschluss or the Sudetenland crisis, it is London which is in charge.

The ‘’appeasement’’ excites today but contempt. Munich has become the symbol of a failed policy. Nevertheless, the uncomfortable fact is that this policy has met the overwhelming support of the public opinion as was reflected, after Munich, in the triumph of Chamberlain, at the balcony of Buckingham Palace and, to a lesser extent, in the return to Paris of Daladier.

Furthermore, ‘’appeasement’’ had its logic. In Britain, apart from the fleet, the military had been neglected since 1919. A rearmament budget was voted only in 1936 and in 1937 and could not give significant results before 1939. In the spring of 1938, the UK warned France it could be able only to deploy two divisions on the continent in case of war. Actually, in May 1940, there were only 11 British divisions in France.

And, the fate of Nazism makes us forget that the notion of the Germans wanting to live in one state had some logic and could even invoke a certain justice. Today it seems incongruous to recognize a moral foundation to the German demands, but in 1936-39, it is a fact that Hitler called for the recognition in favor of the German people, in all its components, of a right to self-determination that many Britons were willing to accept in the name of justice. In this context, for a lot of British people, a war in November 1938 to defend Czechoslovakia, would have been fighting to prevent more than three million Germans to achieve their national aspirations to save a country with an unpronounceable name. No one could hope to mobilize the British people on this basis.

This deep conviction that the German claims were legitimate explains the backlash to the occupation of Bohemia, (March 15th, 1939). Nothing could justify it. It was an outright assault at the expense of a Slavic people. In a sense, the brutality of the British reaction tells the humiliation and the outrage of a people who had believed, in good faith, to have contributed in Munich to repair an injustice suffered by the Germans in 1919. Chamberlain, who had initially reacted weakly, had to take into account this popular indignation by giving the British guarantee unconditionally to Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland (23 March), Poland (31 March), the Greece and Romania (13 April). The country which had always steadfastly refused to engage itself in Eastern Europe when France did it, which has always denounced the unsustainable commitments, which has always stayed out of the quarrels of the continent that did not directly concern itself, gave up, all a sudden, these certainties. The UK did not fight for democracy in Czechoslovakia but was ready to do it for the Polish dictatorship. France followed as usual. How could Hitler believe the seriousness of such a turnabout which was so brutal and so unexpected and was confirmed by no military particular arrangement, a few months after Munich?

Moreover, in late August 1939, the UK will try one last mediation between Germany and Poland in order to satisfy the former. The intransigence of the two protagonists will condemn this last effort. On the September 3rd 1939, it was only after three days of hesitation, that France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany.

E/ The reasons of the tragedy.

The time has come to gather the elements that a quick description of these momentous 20 years has emphasized:

In this context, asserting that it would have been easy militarily in March 1936, when was announced the reoccupation of the Rhineland, to push back the Germans and thus stimulate the fall of Hitler, is ignoring that France was isolated, that her public opinion was passionately anti-war and that her military leaders were alarmist. To expect a bold decision - the General Staff had asked for the general mobilization! - on the campaign trail, in a climate of near civil war, does not make sense.

A country cannot have a foreign policy that is not consistent with its military strategy. The construction of the Maginot Line is always criticized. It is forgetting that it resisted, in May-June, 1940 until the armistice, that it was completed on the north by a Belgian device, built on the same model that the French army was supposed to strengthen at the mobilization. Certainly, the gap remained of the Ardennes, supposedly impassable, but the Franco-Belgian scheme was consistent till it was undermined in 1936 by the unilateral declaration of neutrality in Brussels. The result in May 1940 was that our best forces came come to the aid of Belgium but it was too late since its army had been quickly overwhelmed by the invasion and had not been able to defend its own fortifications.

The War of 1914 to 1918 had taught the premium given to defenders. The Maginot Line responded to a military and political logic especially because that the arrival of the British forces could only be late (in May 1940, there were only eleven British divisions in France!). For a country of 40 million inhabitants, faced with an enemy 70 million, haunted by the memories of the killings of the WWI, a defensive posture made sense. The Belgian betrayal was unpredictable.

However, the alliances with the countries of the Little Entente were inconsistent with that strategy. An army that hides behind a Maginot Line has no intention and no way to rescue Poland, the Rhineland being militarized or not. France had neither the means nor the will to carry out the provisions of its treaty of alliance with the countries of Eastern Europe. Britain’s position in this regard, did not lack logic. Anyway, Poland was conducting its own policy that did not bother the French interests as evidenced by the German-Polish pact in January 1934 or the occupation of Teschen, at the expense of Czechoslovakia in October 1938. .

Eventually, the personality of Adolf Hitler was a decisive factor that no one could predict. At the end of 1938, he had realized the wildest dreams of the German nationalists. Inside he had revived the economy and crushed the democratic parties outside, he had integrated in the Reich ten million Germans without firing a shot and had made his country the first European power whose hegemony could be exercised from Denmark to Romania. In London, some were thinking to give back the colonies seized in 1919. Hitler had given to his country a power that exceeded that of all his predecessors. He had the means to tame the Mittel Europa and force France to a secondary position of political neutrality and economic subordination. But he was not a proletarian reincarnation of Bismarck, or even of William II with bad manners he dreamed of a war his people did not want he occupied Bohemia which was already a de facto protectorate he attacked Poland. No one could reasonably have foreseen that he would implement Mein Kampf. Chamberlain and Daladier, who had been bred at the end of the previous century in the shadow of Metternich and Bismarck could not imagine Auschwitz. As Napoleon said: ’If you want to predict what will a man do, look at the world as it was when he was twenty years old’’. Basically, the French and British leaders were only guilty of not having thought the unthinkable and their peoples to have shrunk in front of the unbearable. Chamberlain believed to have divided Europe with a disciple of Bismarck and not to face a new Genghis Khan.

Finally, the American isolationism weighed heavily at the expense of democracy. The United States withdrew hastily from the European theater without ratifying the Treaty of Versailles, signing the treaty of alliance with France and joining the League of Nations. The postwar period was punctuated by acrimonious quarrels with their former allies accused of not paying their war debts. American diplomacy was only active in Europe to contribute to the settlement of the issue of the reparations, (the Dawes Plan in 1924 and Young 1932), in a manner generally favorable to Germany. When the danger represented by Hitler became clear, the US Congress voted several neutrality laws to prohibit any direct or indirect aid to a belligerent, in other words to France and the United Kingdom. No surprise that Roosevelt did not respond to the desperate call for help the French Prime Minister Reynaud sent him in June 1940. It was only on December 12, 1941 that the United States entered into war with Germany, at the initiative of the latter.

F/ An inevitable tragedy?

It may seem paradoxical to conclude that the tragedy was probably inevitable. Britain and the US abandoned France to her fate and refused to understand her anxieties. Later on, they did not see the Hitlerian threat. In this context, alone in front of a danger she saw coming, France could not consider renewing the heroic efforts she had assured from 1914 to 1918. It was human that she aspired to peace behind the Maginot Line. We can imagine – and hope - a burst of energy of Prime Minister Sarraut in March 1936, we can protest against the abstention of Blum in the Spanish Civil War or require a stiffening of Daladier in September 1938, but it is more appropriate to say that if all these opportunities were missed by so different men it is because the will to fight did not depend on a man but simply exceeded what the France of the war memorials, of the black veiled war widows and of the disabled war veterans could accept. The French backbone had been broken between Verdun and Le Chemin des Dames.

How America’s relationship with Turkey fell apart

The United States and one of its longtime NATO allies, Turkey, are suffering a complete breakdown in their relationship — and it’s unclear if it will ever recover.

Though Turkey and the US have a long history of partnership (including years of fending off the Soviets together), Ankara’s recent actions have blown a hole in the center of their alliance.

The country, for example, is openly defying US wishes on a Russian-made weapons purchase. Ankara has also blamed a US-based cleric for orchestrating a coup against the government, although there’s no evidence to support the claim. It has held American hostages for years. And Turkey even attacked US allies in Syria, throwing the anti-ISIS campaign at the time into chaos.

Their crumbling partnership is, perhaps, not a complete surprise — despite being NATO allies for seven decades, the US and Turkey have often disagreed on foreign policy, particularly toward the Middle East. One reason is that Ankara is perennially skeptical that Washington takes its security concerns seriously, says Amanda Sloat, a Turkey expert at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, DC.

The US, Sloat added, worries about Turkey’s growing friendship with Russia and acceleration away from democracy. That’s been exacerbated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, an authoritarian who has dismantled secular liberal politics in favor of Islamist political values, harbors anti-Western views, and has widened the US-Turkey gap.

The Trump administration has also played a role in the breakdown of ties. Trump placed tough sanctions on Turkey last August, and at one point vowed to “devastate” the country’s economy.

However, the over half-dozen Turkey experts I spoke to for this piece unanimously said that the reason why the US-Turkish relationship is likely doomed for the foreseeable future is mostly because of Ankara.

“This is no longer anything that can accurately be called a strategic partnership,” Lisel Hintz, a Turkey expert at Johns Hopkins University, told me. “I wouldn’t even call Turkey an ally. An ally doesn’t behave the way in which Turkey has been behaving.”

This swift breakdown in ties is bound to have wide-ranging consequences. As a result of losing a friend (or, for some “frenemy”) in the region, the US will surely find its goals in Europe and the Middle East harder to achieve over the coming years.

“This is a slow-motion car crash,” says Aaron Stein, a Turkey expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.

The US and Turkey were never perfect partners

The history of US-Turkey relations is, at best, a rocky one. “There probably never was a good old days,” says Howard Eissenstat, a Turkey expert at the Project on Middle East Democracy think tank in Washington.

Turkey joined NATO in 1951, at which point both countries worked together to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War. America and its other allies focused more on threats to Western Europe, leaving Turkey to act as the heavily armed bulwark against Moscow’s advances in the Middle East, and particularly the Black Sea.

American lawyer Charles M. Spofford joins other international representatives to sign the protocol admitting Greece and Turkety into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on October 22, 1952 in London. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

That didn’t make the two countries the best of friends, though.

In 1963, for example, then-President Lyndon Johnson warned Turkey in a letter against invading Cyprus, the small island nation in the Mediterranean. Between 1963 and 1964, fighting between Turkish and Greek Cypriots increased after Cyprus’s president made constitutional changes perceived to benefit Greek Cypriots.

The US president’s letter was perceived as a major insult to Turkey.

“Johnson’s letter has done more to set back United States Turkish relations than any other single act,” a CIA officer wrote in a once-secret June 1964 cable. The letter “illustrates that the United States has not understood and still does not understand Turkish intensions or positions on Cyprus” and “makes it almost mandatory for Turkey to become more independent of the United States in the field of international relations.”

And then in 1974, when the Greek government backed a military coup on the island, Turkey went ahead with the invasion. To this day, Cyprus remains a divided country where a Turkish-Cypriot government controls the northern third and a Greek-Cypriot government controls the rest.

Experts say Ankara never really felt like Washington had its back throughout the Cold War. Nonetheless, they remained allies, banded together by their mutual Soviet concerns.

But then two events happened that changed all that.

The first, of course, is that the Cold War ended, exposing the deep fissures masked by their mutual anti-communist stances. The second event, putting those relationship cracks on full display, was the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War.

After the US military kicked out Iraqi forces from Kuwait, then-President George H.W. Bush worried about Baghdad’s repression of the Kurdish people in the north of Iraq. America therefore imposed a no-fly zone — meaning warplanes couldn’t operate in a defined airspace without the threat of retribution — over that part of the country.

While it did protect thousand of Kurds from slaughter, the Kurds also decided during this time to push for their own state — Kurdistan — within Iraq.

Kurdish refugees set up camp during their move to Iran. Thierry Orban/Sygma via Getty Images

That was something the Turks strongly opposed. Ankara has been fighting a decades-long insurgency of Kurdish separatists inside Turkey, and thus considers growing Kurdish power to be a security problem. And yet here was the US, providing military cover while the Kurds aimed to establish their own government near Turkey’s southeastern border.

Considering all of this, former Turkish parliamentarian Aykan Erdemir told me, “it’s naive to assume this relationship has always been harmonious.”

But lately, it’s gotten worse. Much worse.

The current US-Turkey dispute, explained

Burak Kadercan, a Turkey expert at the US Naval War College, says the current problems between Washington and Ankara should be thought about in three separate ways.

First, there are just some intractable issues neither side is likely to solve soon. Second, there are long-term problems they might fix over time. And third, some new concerns have popped up that probably will bedevil the relationship for a while.

The Kurds and the war on ISIS

The US and Turkey have quarreled over the Kurds, a Middle Eastern ethnic group, in years past. But the conflict in Syria showed that the disagreement persists — and remains deadly.

After a 2011 uprising in Syria against the government devolved into full-blown civil war, ISIS fighters seeking to establish a fundamental Islamist caliphate took advantage of the chaos and swept in, taking control of large swathes of the country. The US saw this as a threat to regional security, and decided to militarily push back.

In order to defeat ISIS, Washington allied for years with Kurdish fighters who toiled on the ground while the US-led coalition mainly dropped bombs from the sky. As they rooted the terrorist organization out from northern parts of Syria, Kurdish forces — which were known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), before they joined with other fighters and became the amorphous Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — took control of the territory.

Turkey was never happy about the US-YPG partnership to begin with. Ankara, rightfully, according to some experts, complained that the Syrian Kurds had close ideological ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a terrorist organization. That Turkish Kurdish group has waged a bloody fight for autonomy from Turkey since the late 1970s.

But when the Trump administration helped them acquire territory in Syria’s north — which borders Turkey’s south — it proved a step too far for Ankara.

Erdoğan responded by sending Turkish troops into northern Syria to fight Kurdish forces in January of last year, throwing the US-led anti-ISIS campaign in jeopardy.

“Turkey will suffocate this terror army before it’s born,” Erdoğan said on January 14.

It was a development that US military personnel didn’t anticipate early on, Eissenstat, who is also a St. Lawrence University professor, told me.

As the anti-ISIS fight began, he gave lectures to troops and staff about what to expect. “I basically said ‘you’re not going to get Turkey to support the YPG in any way against ISIS.’ And they were flabbergasted. They didn’t believe me,” he said.

Here’s why they should have: “For Turkey, groups like ISIS are fundamentally security problems,” he continued. “The YPG is an existential one.”

This fundamental misunderstanding is ruining President Donald Trump’s own war plans now.

Trump has said that he wants to withdraw US troops from Syria, but his advisers warned that Turkey would likely launch a full-scale invasion to rid the Kurds from northern Syria. Washington, then, seeks Ankara’s guarantee that it won’t attack America’s allies there if US troops come home.

During a trip to Israel in January, National Security Adviser John Bolton reiterated that point. “We don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States, at a minimum so they don’t endanger our troops,” Bolton told reporters in Jerusalem, referring to the roughly 2,000 US troops in the area advising the Kurdish fighters.

The top Trump aide then traveled to Ankara to meet with Turkish officials, including Erdoğan. But the Turkish leader chose not to meet with Bolton, even though he was in the capital, because of those remarks. “It is not possible for us to swallow the message Bolton gave from Israel,” he told his parliament.

Without a guarantee for the Kurds’ safety, and to fight off any ISIS remnants, Trump has reportedly decided to keep around 1,000 troops in Syria.

A convoy of US forces drive near the village of Yalanli on the western outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Manbij on March 5, 2017. Delil Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images

Experts told me that unless the US begins to consider the Kurds as much of a threat as Turkey does — or Turkey stops worrying about the Kurds, a very unlikely prospect — both countries will continue to squabble over this issue indefinitely.

“This is not a problem that can be talked away,” Kadercan told me. “It’s still going to be there with or without Erdoğan.”

Erdoğan’s authoritarianism, Gülen, and imprisonments

There’s no denying, though, that Erdoğan’s disdain for democracy is a major impediment to improved US-Turkish ties.

Erdoğan has held power in Turkey for 16 years — first as the country’s prime minister from 2003 to 2014, and then as president. And he has also seemingly stopped at nothing to preserve his authority: He has silenced his challengers, jailed dozens of journalists, and changed the Turkish constitution to favor him.

But his drive for absolute control intensified in July 2016 when Erdoğan survived a failed military coup that attempted to oust him out of power.

A faction of the Turkish military, claiming to speak for the entire Turkish Armed Forces, aimed to oust Erdoğan in the name of democracy — despite the fact that Erdoğan and his party were democratically elected. But the attempt failed, mainly because large portions of the military sided with their president.

Erdoğan used his triumph as an excuse to purge the military and government of people he suspected of plotting against him, thereby creating a state more subservient and pliable to his will.

Indeed, Turkey’s presidency used to be a primarily ceremonial role, while the country was mainly ruled by a prime minister in a parliamentary democracy. But that changed in 2017, when a referendum led by Erdoğan’s party overturned the existing government structure. This abolished the prime minister’s role and cleared the way for Erdoğan to extend the limits of his authority.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan prepares to make a statement on April 16, 2017, after declaring victory in a historic referendum that will grant sweeping powers to the presidency. Stringer/Getty Images

Unchecked, he began to openly criticize the US with language that veered into outright hostility.

Erdoğan, without evidence, blames a Turkish cleric named Fethullah Gülen for instigating a July 2016 coup attempt and has called for his immediate return to Turkey to stand trial. The problem for Erdoğan is that Gülen currently lives in Pennsylvania after coming to the US in 1999 to escape persecution from a previous Turkish administration. Trump, like other presidents before him, has so far refused to hand the cleric over to Ankara.

The Gülen rift grew bigger during the White House’s push to get Andrew Brunson, a US pastor, released from Turkish prison in 2018.

Ankara charged Brunson with unproven crimes and claimed that he was involved in terrorism. Trump was personally invested in bringing Brunson home, going so far as to impose heavy tariffs on Turkey last August until he secured the pastor’s release. That was a major move, especially since Turkey is America’s fifth-largest export market.

The sanctions hurt Ankara’s economy so badly that its currency, the lira, plunged to a record low against the dollar last year.

But experts mostly agree that Erdoğan originally aimed to withstand the American-imposed pressure out of hope the US would trade Gülen for Brunson. That didn’t happen, but both sides did reach a secret deal that led Turkey to release Brunson, who returned to the US last October.

The pastor’s detention, though, is just one example of a growing problem in Turkey. Ankara has also detained three Turkish citizens (two were put in prison, and one was placed under house arrest) that work for the State Department. The charges again them, by all accounts, are bogus.

Experts I spoke to said that jailing US government employees is not normal diplomatic practice, and it’s especially egregious when a NATO ally does it.

And Erdoğan’s rhetoric during local elections last week stoked anti-American sentiment among his base throughout the campaign. There has long been anti-US feeling within the Turkish government and public — partly because of rampant conspiracy theories about America secretly plotting to crush Turkey, and Washington’s much-disliked Middle East policies — but the autocrat ratcheted up the language to a whole new level.

“What’s unique now is that even when US-Turkish relations were turbulent, there was never such a systematic attempt to smear the US from the highest levels of the Turkish government or state-run media,” Erdemir, who is now at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies think tank, told me. “There has never been this level of conspiracy theories spread by government circles or such a level of threat against US officials and troops.”

Islamic groups protest in Ankara, Turkey in response to the US government’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 17, 2017. Diego Cupolo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

When it comes to big-picture Washington-Ankara relations, all of these problems are solvable.

For one, Erdoğan’s party lost local elections in Ankara and Istanbul last week, making it clear that the autocrat’s power isn’t absolute. There’s a chance, although a very small one, that he loosens his grip on the state and enacts some democratic reforms in light of these results.

The Gülen dispute and the jailing of US government employees are very bad for the relationship between the two countries, but it’s possible that sustained diplomacy behind the scenes can smooth things over.

However, new issues keep popping up that threaten to further derail the fragile alliance.

Russia and the S-400 missile-defense system

The latest conflict roiling Washington and Ankara is over an anti-aircraft missile system — one that Russia wants to sell to Turkey.

The Turkish government has pushed hard to get one for years because it’s one of the nation’s biggest defense gaps. The system would make it much better at shooting down threatening planes.

Some experts say Ankara especially wants it now because the 2016 coup attempt included rogue military pilots flying fighter jets with the intention of ousting Erdoğan. Such a system could help the president shoot down potential coup-plotting airmen in the future.

The United States and some European countries, as NATO allies, assumed Turkey would buy the platform from one of them. After all, they say, a US or European-made system would work more seamlessly with NATO militaries because they use similar software, radars, and even troops to provide maintenance.

But Turkey looked elsewhere, specifically toward China and Russia.

In 2013, Ankara initially said it agreed to purchase a Beijing-made system before changing its mind. That once again opened the competition to the US and European models. But in a somewhat surprising move, Turkey then agreed to buy Russia’s S-400 system in 2017 for $2.5 billion.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (front, second from the left), Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (center, right) pose for a photo prior to the dinner during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China on May 14, 2017.

The Trump administration isn’t happy about this at all, and US Army general and NATO Commander Curtis Scaparrotti told the Senate in March as much.

“I would hope that they reconsider this one decision on S-400,” he said. “My best military advice would be that we don’t then follow through with the F-35, flying it, or working with an ally that is working with Russian systems, particularly air defense systems, with one of our most advanced technological capabilities.”

Experts tell me the US fears that the Russian system could pose a threat to the 100 US-made F-35 fighter jets that Turkey purchased, partly because the system’s radar could potentially collect intelligence from the plane and send it back to Russian spies. That worry is a bit overblown, though, especially since F-35s already fly near China, for example.

Still, there’s enough fear that the top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate foreign relations and armed services committees wrote a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday to warn Turkey against buying Russia’s system.

“By the end of the year, Turkey will have either [US-made] F-35 advanced fighter aircraft on its soil or a Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system,” four senators wrote. “It will not have both.” They also noted that Turkey risks being kicking out of the F-35 production program, which provides jobs and roughly $12 billion to its economy.

But Turkey won’t relent, as Erdoğan made clear on Monday. “We have determined our road map for the S-400,” he said shortly after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. “No one can expect us to give up this.”

Russia plans to start delivery of the system in July and turn it on in October. As a result, the US this week announced that it would block necessary equipment to operate the F-35 unless it cancels the Russian order.

What’s more, Turkey’s installation of the program would trigger the US to place more sanctions on the country. A bill called the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” requires the US to impose penalties on those that do business with Russia’s defense sector.

“Sanctions will hit Turkey’s economy hard — rattling international markets, scaring away foreign direct investment and crippling Turkey’s aerospace and defense industry,” the bipartisan group of senators wrote.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has effectively turned this issue into a referendum on Turkey’s relationship with NATO writ large, and America in particular.

“Turkey must choose,” Vice President Mike Pence said on April 3 during the NATO anniversary celebration in Washington. “Does it want to remain a critical partner in the most successful military alliance in history, or does it want to risk the security of that partnership by making such reckless decisions that undermine our alliance?”

Based on recent history, it doesn’t seem like the US will like the answer to that question.

How the US and Turkey are managing their “divorce”

The natural query now is: Will the US-Turkish relationship improve? It’s unlikely to any time soon, experts say.

Three main factors help explain why.

First, as the Russian missile defense system kerfuffle shows, Erdoğan has started to turn more toward Moscow than toward Washington. Indeed, the Turkish leader and Putin met in person seven times in 2018 and spoke on the phone another 18 times that year, indicating a developing, close relationship.

While Turkey remains in NATO (and no expert says it will leave any time soon), closer Turkey-Russia ties will naturally strain Ankara’s relationship with its allies — particularly the US. But there is some positive news, says Johns Hopkins’ Hintz: “Turkey will never trust Russia the way it does institutions like NATO,” because it “still benefits from the military alliance.”

So there may not be a complete US-Turkey break on this front, though it will likely remain a major stressor.

Second, Erdoğan shows no real sign of ending his anti-American stance. He still promotes conspiracy theories against the US and openly blames the country for many of Turkey’s woes. He’s accelerated democratic backsliding, and his government still poses a threat to American citizens, journalists, and government officials.

Trump, for his part, hasn’t done much to quell tensions — he’s sanctioned Turkey and placed tariffs on products, as well as openly lambasted Ankara for detaining US hostages. As if to feed the conspiracy theories, at one point Trump vowed to “devastate” Turkey’s economy if it attacked the Kurds in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sits with President Donald Trump in New York on September 21, 2017.

But Washington’s need for Ankara has declined over time. Incirlik Air Base, a US Air Force base in Turkey’s south, proved indispensable to US and NATO operations in the Middle East for years. But the base is no longer as valuable to its Western allies — and part of that is Turkey’s fault.

In 2017, German troops left the base after Erdoğan’s government wouldn’t let lawmakers from Berlin visit their troops. And on multiple occasions, Ankara used the base as leverage against the US in discussions over how to conduct the anti-ISIS war.

Washington doesn’t have to put up with that as much anymore, experts say, especially since there are new bases nearby in Qatar or Romania that could become roughly, although not entirely, as useful.

One way ties could improve in the short-term is if the US decides to help Ankara’s struggling economy recover, Jenny White, a Turkey expert at the University of Stockholm in Sweden, told me. But she’s also skeptical that could happen, mainly because “nothing can be fixed unless there’s a diplomatic message to reach a solution — and that’s not happening right now.”

So what to make of the US-Turkey fallout, going forward? Eissenstat offered the smallest of silver linings. The reason the relationship is so fraught now isn’t because both countries are enemies, but rather because the two historical allies are separating after so long.

“The United States and Turkey will continue to have close areas of cooperation,” he said, “but they’re going through a divorce. And there’s lots of countries that we don’t get along with that nonetheless we’re capable of cooperating with, but there’s a lot of bitterness that goes with divorces.”

And as this divorce happens, America’s ability to work with Turkey in the Middle East and Europe will continue to dwindle — meaning US influence there, at least somewhat, degrades.

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History of Turkey During World War II (1933—1952)

Turkey (then known as the Ottoman Empire 1299—1922) fought in World War I (1914—1918), and was considered a major ally of Germany (then known as the German Empire 1871—1918). By the wars end, both the Ottomans and the Germans succumbed to defeat after having ferociously fought against the allies. Ώ] However, when World War II began in 1939, Turkey was one of only five European countries that had declared neutrality towards both sides preferring to stay our of another major world war the other neutral countries were Spain, Sweden, Portugal and Switzerland. Ώ] ΐ]

Even well before World War II began, the Germans had held Turkey with high esteem being extremely well-informed on the political events transpiring there. Turkey became so highly regarded amongst the Germans that in the space of fours years from the very left wing to the very far right, almost everything from the Muslim nation was reported in a very positive light one German newspaper alone published 2,200 pieces within that time-frame. This meant that at least one article a day was dedicated to Turkey, it's history and politics (or at the very least three articles every two days). The Germans even used language and vocabulary they usually reserved for White Germans to refer to the Turkish people in an effort to build solidarity. Α]

Nazi newspapers even talked about Turkey in a very respectful manner, despite the Nazi disdain for non-White people. Hans Trobst (1891—1939) for example, who was the only German mercenary in the employment of the Turkish army, wrote about the Turks in the far right "Heimatland" and "Volkischer Kurier" publications, taking great interest in their affairs. Β] However, prior to the Nazis actually taking over these newspapers, they were going against the trend of other German dailies and instead had reported negatively on Ataturk's struggle against the Greeks, French and British. This all ceased on December 2nd, 1920, when the Nazi party purchased them, and soon they became highly sympathetic towards Ataturks cause. Some of the earliest front page headlines were "Heroic Turkey" and "Turkey—The Role Model". Γ]

The First World War was an important historical precedence that lead to the Turkish independence movement, so soon after it's end in 1918. Δ] A mere five years after the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and the Sultan had shamelessly aligned himself as a puppet of the British, the Turks won their independence, which culminated in the defeat of Britain, France and Greece, enshrined in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). Δ] This superceded the humiliating Treaty of Sevres (1920). Δ] Ε]

This latter treaty was incredibly harsh, much like that of the Treaty of Versailles (1919) on the Germans, Ζ] which was designed to punish than sue for terms of peace.

The Turks were only allowed to have an army the size of 50,000 men. This included staff, officers, trainers and depot troops. Reinforcement troops also had to number no more than 15,000 men and legion troops no more than 35,000 men. Η] Of these men, only 1,150 were to have rifles per 1,000 men, one revolver per man, and fifteen machines guns (heavy or light) limited to 10 per legion (defined at 25% the strength of the total number of legion soldiers allowed) with 50,000-100,000 rounds per weapon. Field guns or heavy guns were banned by the treaty outright. The Sultan was allowed a personal bodyguard of 700 men. ⎖]

Turkey was also ordered to pay £. T. Gold 143,241,757. ⎗] Furthermore, large swathes of Muslim lands were to go to the direct control of the allied powers.

In total, there were 433 articles of imposition stipulated. ⎘] Although powerful enough to rip this treaty apart the Turks could not afford a struggle to win back it's other territories such as Iraq, and the Aegean Islands. Δ]

Anglo—Turkish Pact (1938—1939)

In 1938, the Turkish armed forces consisted of 20,000 officers, and 174,000 men, largely still equipped with World War I weaponry. ⎙] The Turkish were so short on rifles that they had asked buy 150,000 rifles from the UK. ⎙] In 1937, the Turkish only 131 fighter planes, of which 65-66 were modern airfcraft. ⎙]

Turkey wanted to increase this force to around 300 by 1938, given that they already had 300 moderately trained pilots. ⎙] Their navy was in an even more dire condition, with only one battle cruiser, four destroyers and five submarines. ⎙]

By February 1938, the Turkish, aware of an oncoming war increased aerial defence spending by £7,000,000 pounds, and £5,000,000 pounds on military equipment. ⎙] In May 1938, the Turkish received additional military funding from the British, amounting £6 million pounds. ⎙]

The Turks actually needed at least £21 million pounds from the UK in order to be able to meet costs. ⎙] With regards to the Germans arming the Turks the promises were never fulfilled, forcing Turkey to look outside. ⎙]

When World War II began, the personal strength of the Turkish air forces were 8,500 officers and 450 pilots, with 370 aircraft. ⎚] In September 1939 the British agreed to fund £25 million pounds into Turkey's military. ⎛]

From this deal the Turks were able to purchase 258 aircraft (complete with fuel), 2,500 mines with 2.5 tonnes of charge each, 200 torpedos, 700 depth charges, 36 naval assault craft, 25 patrol boats, 4 torpedo boats, 3 coastguard boats, 6 minesweepers and 2 minelayers. ⎙]


The Tripartite Straits Crisis (1932—1943)

The bosphorous straits were hugely important for both the Soviets and the Germans as well as the Turks, with all wanting to control the strategically important route. This increased the tension between the Soviets and the Germans not to mention the already several successful German invasions of Soviet sphere's of influence. The two powers were also diametrically opposed to one another, one was communist and the other fascist. It became inevitable that the two powers would clash, but where, [n. 1] was the question. Hitler chose the option for a direct invasion on the Soviet lands, after being guaranteed Turkish neutrality, which was the best he could achieve. When the war began between the Germans and Soviets, the Turkish president was hugely relieved. Δ] The Germans were attacking Turkey's longest known enemy in it's history, without so much as involving Turkey directly into the conflict. Δ] The Germans, which the Turks were still distrustful of, also did not manage to get embroiled in a Nazi invasion of their lands. Δ] With the Soviets busy trying to defend themselves, and the Germans busy invading the Soviet Union and with the conflict later reaching into stalemate and then Germany losing, Turkey managed to avoid the two powers attacking it's territory. Δ] When Inonu heard that Hitler had invaded the Soviets he burst into a fit of laughter "for nearly ten minutes" which demonstrated "a release of tension by someone who had been under enormous stress for the last two years". Δ] Thereafter the Turkish took on a Pro-German stance in order to deflect irking the Germans.

Prior to the invasion, Hitler tried as much as he could to cause tensions between the Soviets and Turks, in order to push the Turkish away from the communists. ⎜] By 1940 the Germans even thought of attacking the Turks directly should they form an alliance with the communists, but this never materialised since the Germans had separated the two already, and also wanted to first deal with eliminating the Soviet Union before it was Turkey's turn. ⎜] Germany also tried to divide them in other ways as well. The German propaganda ministry published several literature in order to convince the Turks over to their side. ⎝] They published "Signal", "Turkische Post", "Beyoglu", "Istanbul" and "Yeni Dunya". ⎝] The Germans also broadcasted several radio programmes within Turkey, massaging historic ties and friendship, praising even Ataturk himself. ⎝] The Nazis also showed themselves as the alternative to the communists, whom Germany would fight against, should their expansion continue in order to protect Turkey. ⎝] The focus on trade grew increasingly, with Germany increasing its export and imports from the Turks from 13.5% and 23.3% respectively in 1932 to 44% and 46% on average for the next 1935 and 1938. ⎝] In stark contrast, Britain only imported 3% of Turkey's total produce and exported 11% of their products. ⎝] It is interesting that total trade during the war between the Soviets and Turkish actually continuously declined from 4%/4% in 1938 to 0%/0% by 1945, whereas with Germany it was 44%/48% in 1938 to 0%/1% in 1945. ⎝] With the British it increased from 3%/11% in 1938, to 15%/23%, and with the US from 12%/10% to 44%/18%. ⎝]

President Inonu ignored the Germans before the Soviet-German war, as much as he could at every opportunity, which even culminated in German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, to threaten to destroy Turkey "within a week" if they did not respond back and ally with them. ⎜] Turkey staunchly ignored his tirades, despite fully knowing well that the Nazis were invading dozens of countries and were serious about their threats. ⎜] The Turkish president and Hitler even exchanged correspondence in order to ease tensions between the two by March 1941, with Turkey increasingly worried about a German invasion of their territory. ⎜] This was even after assurances were made personally by Hitler himself that he would respect Turkey's borders. ⎜] In relief the Turks found themselves safe after Hitler had indeed honoured his agreement, and stayed well away from the Turkish lines when he entered Bulgaria. ⎜] Even when Greece and Yugoslavia were invaded in April 1941, Turkey remarkably felt completely at ease. ⎜] It was so at ease that it even ignored Churchill's requests to invade Germany, with Inonu proclaiming that the "adventure" would amount to nothing for his people. ⎜] In what seemed like a turnaround for Hitler (since in the summer of 1939 he had espoused anti-Turkish feelings), by May 5th, 1941, he was openly praising the Turks given how important they were becoming to the geopolitical context, vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. ⎜] The politiking culminated in the June 18th, signing of a Nazi-Turkish Non-aggression Pact (1941). ⎜] This pact meant nothing the Nazis broke theirs with the Soviets after 4 days. ⎞]

Nazi—Turkish Trade (1933—1945)

Britain was so worried about Turkey's exports to Nazi Germany that they offered a £16 million pound deal, with at least £6 million pounds going towards military purchases in May 1938. ⎜] By January 1939, the Germans tried to outbid the British, offering RM 150 million reichmarks, with at least RM 60 million reichmarks dedicated to military products, in addition with offers to buy agricultural products, at 30% above global market prices. ⎜] Throughout the war however, Turkey was not significantly developing any proper political relations with the Nazi empire. ⎜] The British exploited this by forming an Anglo-Turkish Treaty in May 1939, much to Germany's annoyance. ⎜] The Nazis protested by not honouring their arms exports at all, and after Turkey had refused to renew the August 1939 trade agreement between the two, but eventually settled their differences. ⎜] The importance of this trade is emphasised by the fact that the Germans had heavily traded with Turkey well before the outbreak of World War II. In 1939, the Turkish population census recorded that there were 17,820,950 Turkish citizens living in the country, with 13,475,000 million (70%) living in rural areas. ⎟] As a result, self sufficiency proved impossible given how spread the Turkish population was outside of it's Urban areas. ⎟] For this reason, the Turks needed foreign currency to shore up their accounts in a short amount of time. ⎟] Germany came to it's aid, supplying 78% of it's wool yarns and tissues, 69.7% of it's iron and steel, 61% of it's machines and apparatus, and 55.4% of it's chemicals. ⎟] In return, the Germans bought 75% of new wool, 70% of it's cotton, and 70% of it's chrome. ⎟]

Turkey produced approximately 20% of the global chromite ore supply (estimates range from 16% Ώ] -19% ⎠] of global economic output). ⎠] It was a crucial ingredient in the production of military products such as tanks (since stainless steel contains up to 18% chromium ⎜] ) which 33% of chromium ore bought from Turkey by Nazi Germany was directed to by 1944. ⎠] Trade was brisk, between 1939 and 1943, the gold reserves of the secular Turkish republic rose from $88 million dollars to $221 million dollars. ΐ] This was the fourth largest increase in gold reserves out of the five neutral nations, which one historian has claimed is linked as evidence to the extent of Nazi looting during the war (not all of the $221 million dollars was made from Nazi Germany). ΐ] The largest increase was witnessed by Switzerland at 537%, whereas Turkeys was 133%. ΐ] In terms of the amount of gold Turkey made from Germany, in 1939, the secular republic only had 27.4 tonnes of gold (27.400 kg), but by 1945 it accumulated a healthy 216 tonnes (216,000 kg) of gold bullion. ⎠] Although it was not known to the Turks, [n. 2] it is alleged some of the gold came from concentration camps. ⎠] If trade was in todays prices, this amounts to $8.7 billion dollars in gold trade in total.[1] However others claim that Turkey never received more than $15 million dollars in gold (most of which was said to have been looted in Belgium). ⎡] Turkey never returned, nor was asked to return, any gold. ΐ] In 1933, Nazi Germany bought 11.7 tonnes of chromium ore, and between January and August 1939, just prior to the invasion of Poland, it bought 96.2 tonnes. ⎠] From 1936, 64,500 metric tonnes (mt), 58,400 mt (1937), 68,500 mt (1938) and 114,500 mt (1939) of chromite ore were sold. ⎢]


Creation of Israel (1948—Present)

Historically, the Jews in Turkey were never persecuted and even helped in the formation of the Young Turks Movement in 1908 (the same movement would later be accused of an alleged "genocide" against the Armenians). ⎣] The Jews also later supported the war of independence, betraying the Christians in favour of the Muslims. ⎣] Ataturk even praised Turkish Jews for their contributions towards the movement. ⎣] When World War II started, many European Jews fled to Turkey. ⎣] When Israel was created in 1948, at the expense of the Palestinians who would undergo a colossal loss of land and subsequent genocide attempts of their own at the hands of the Jews, Turkey became the first Muslim country to recognize it. ⎣] The two countries good relations continued ⎣] (along with Azerbaijan another Turkic state) well into the next few decades until Israel committed several massacres, mass murders, and wars against non-Jews in Palestine in an effort to ethnically cleanse Israel, including the 2008 flotilla attack. Israel only apologized after Obama forced it's hand. Israel's belligerent attitude towards non-Jews has ironically even seen it's government come out in support of a "shoah/holocaust" against Palestinians. In World War II however, Turkey rescued 115,000 Jews from Europe. ⎤] When this figure is broken down, 15,000 were French Jews who were allowed to settle in Turkey, along with 100,000 Eastern European Jews. ⎤] Turkey however, also deprived 2,000 Turkish Jews of their citizenship, but refused to do so for 3,000 others, who were all on an arrest warrant list made by the Germans at the height of Nazi power. ⎥]

Turkish—Soviet Relations & NATO

Turkey was at strains with the Soviet Union, even before the war began. The communists had adopted an expansionist policy, which would go on to disrupt many different countries throughout the USSR's tenure until it's demise in 1991. The Polish had already suffered a joint Nazi-Soviet coalition to takeover the country even during the war. The Turks had, at least politically, attempted to survive this threat by making a treaty with the communist empire, known as the Treaty of Friendship (1925) ⎦] this was renewed in 1935 again as the situation in Europe gradually worsened. ⎦] For a time, this meant the Turks only had the Italians to worry of. ⎦] The Italians had openly declared hostility several times towards the Turks, and even went on to horrendously invade Muslim Albania. ⎦] This was primarily also down to the fact that the fascist Italians had already invaded Ethiopia. The Italians themselves wanted Iraq, and being former Ottoman territory, they did not want Turkey to get it back. Eventually Italy was taken out of the equation as Hitler's forces and influence grew to massive proportions. Δ] During this time, Turkey opened up even more in their relations with Britain, and then France. ⎦] The British guaranteed protection to the Turkish if war broke out in the mediteranean in the May 1939 treaty, however Turkey was not obliged to do the same if Britain was invaded. ⎦] Turkey signed a similar deal with France in June 1939. ⎦] Fortunately for the Turks, when the French were invaded (and surrendered to the Nazis within a month), this worked out for them. ⎦] As Russia was invaded and then started winning, the Turks felt threatened. ⎦]

‘La Françafrique’: The Special Relationship Between France and Its Former Colonies in Africa

Former colonial power France was the second largest empire in the world after Britain and the biggest in Africa during the 19 th and 20 th centuries. Even after the colonial times came to an end and most of the colonies gained their independence, the vestiges of colonialism remains and France maintains special relations with its former colonies. The first Ivorian President Félix Houphouët-Boigny introduced the expression &lsquoLa Françafrique&rsquo in 1955 to define the wish of some members of the African elite to maintain special relations with France after their independence. Since then, this term has been used several times in a pejorative meaning to describe French neo-colonial dominance in Africa.

&lsquoThe time of what we used to call &lsquoLa Françafrique&rsquo is over&rsquo former French President François Hollande said solemnly before the Senegalese National Assembly on 12 th October 2012. However, France still remains at the core of Africa through its military, cultural, economic and geopolitical presence. The country seems to pursue a strategy of domination on behalf of its own interest to keep the dependence of African States. So is Hollande&rsquos statement in Dakar entirely true? Is the time of &lsquoLa Françafrique&rsquo really over?

French Colonization of Africa (1830 - 1962)

French colonization of Africa started in 1830 with the invasion of Algeria. Gradually, new territories in Northern, Western and Central Africa as well as the East African coastal enclave of Djibouti were conquered, making France became the largest colonial empire in the continent. By 1914, French empire controlled 60 million people that spread out over 10,000,000 square kilometers.

Political motives for colonization differed from the search for markets, investments, raw materials and cheap workforce to the drive for victory and strategic advantage. There were also religious and cultural motives such as the desire to spread Catholicism, French culture and &lsquoeducate&rsquo indigenous people.

France governed its territories in two different ways. Protectorates preserved a relative autonomy and were ruled indirectly through existing local authorities. This was the case in Morocco and Tunisia. Colonies in West and Equatorial Africa were directly administered while Algeria enjoyed a status of French department.

Colonial Ideology: Racism and Propaganda

&lsquoColonisation is a first-order political necessity. A nation that doesn&rsquot colonize is irrevocably destined for socialism and war between rich and poor&rsquo [1] said French philosopher Ernest Renan.

&lsquoSuperior races have a right towards inferior races&hellip because there is a duty for them&hellip They have the duty to civilize inferior races&rsquo. This is what Jules Ferry, the proponent of secular, compulsory and free school affirmed in the Chamber of Deputies. [2]

The abolitionist Alexis de Tocqueville and Victor Schoelcher also supported colonialism. &lsquoThere is neither need nor duty to allow our Muslim subjects to have exaggerate ideas on their own importance or to show that we have to treat them as if they were our fellow or our equal citizens. They know that we have a leading position in Africa&rsquo wrote Tocqueville in his report on Algeria in 1847. [3]

By a reversal, colonization was also conducted on behalf of what the Europeans deem as &lsquoHuman Rights&rsquo. It was to put an end to slavery in Africa and to bring progress and civilization to a &lsquobarbarian society&rsquo. Slavery and trafficking were then replaced by the territorial colonization of Africa based on inequality and racism. Black people and Muslims in Arabic countries were seen as &lsquoa retarded and imperfect civilization&rsquo (Tocqueville, 1847).

Colonial ideology was supported by &lsquoracial hierarchy&rsquo theory and &lsquoscientific racism&rsquo. In his book &lsquoOn the Origins of Species&rsquo, published in 1859, British scientist Charles Darwin first set out his theory of the evolutionary mechanism as an explanation of organic change. Darwin explained evolution through three principles namely variation, conservative force and struggle for existence. [4] His theory was then applied to human society and so Social Darwinism emerged. It became very popular among Europeans to justify colonialism, racism and social inequality. Social Darwinism is based on the &lsquosurvival of the fittest&rsquo, the idea that the strongest nation (in this case the Europeans) was the best able to rule. &lsquoWhite civilized&rsquo nations had the moral and inherent right to conquer and civilize the &lsquosavage blacks&rsquo described as being of low intellect.

These racist ideas were supported by the press and advertisements, which portrayed Africans as wild and uncivilized. For instance, in an advertising poster published in 1915, Banania (brand of cocoa powder) demeaned black people by representing a Senegalese Tirailleur eating cocoa powder at war and being atrocious in French (&lsquoY&rsquoa bon&rsquo). Propaganda and racist ideology allowed the legitimization of colonization.

African Resistance and Colonial Crimes

Since the very beginning, the colonization of Africa provoked resistance. Despite the disproportion of forces (most of the Africans used arrows and assegais while French soldiers used riffles and artillery), some countries fought, some assumed noncompliance and others unwillingly complied. Colonization was done with the cruelest methods (forced labour, deportation, starvation&hellip) and some conflicts were very bloody and full of atrocities. A few examples defining African resistance to European imperial expansion and colonial rule in Africa are cited bellow.

In Algeria, a resistance movement against the bloody conquest led by Emir Abdelkader began in 1832 and lasted until he was captured by France and exiled in 1847. In March 1843, lieutenant colonel Lucien de Montagnac&rsquos letter to his fellow embodies the violence of the war, &lsquoAll the good soldiers that I am honoured to command are warned by myself that if they bring me an Arab who is not dead, they will receive sabre blows&rsquo. [5] Many Algerians lost their lives because of massacres, burned cities and villages, drought and deadly cholera outbreak. According to Dominique Maison (a research fellow in the National Institute of Population Studies) on the eve of the conquest, the population of Algeria was reportedly 3 million. However, Muslim population counted by French authorities was below this figure until 1881. [6]

In West Africa, around what Mali, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast are now located, was the Mandinka Empire. Its ruler Samory Toure refused to submit to French colonization and combated the French both militarily and diplomatically. The Mandinka Empire resisted for many years, but Touré was captured in 1898, which ended the resistance.

In the Kingdom of Dahomey (today&rsquos Benin), the powerful king Behanzin resisted by attacking the French militarily and economically after their occupation of Porto Novo and Cotonou. However Dahomey ended up being first a protectorate and then a colony. Behanzin was exiled to the West Indies in 1894.

The Voulet and Chanoine military expedition, which is a military mission that bears the name of its two officers Voulet and Chanoine aimed to reach the Lake of Tchad. The mission that started on January 1899 and lasted for seven months embodies one of the greatest colonial violence lead by two out-of-control officers. The latter ordered their soldiers to massacre all the people who refuse to cooperate without any exception. Rape, dismemberment, decapitation, hanging, enslavement, fire and murder were just some of the numerous atrocities done to those who resisted. The exact death toll, estimated to be several thousand people, remains unknown.

Colonial Policy and Status of Colonial People

Colonial oder was based on the institutionalization of inequality between indigenous and Europeans who didn&rsquot have the same rights. For instance, indigenous people were subjected to special laws and a special education that diminished their status in society. Some African men were also recruited to become a &lsquoSenegalese Tirailleurs&rsquo and serve in the French army.

The Natives Law, called &lsquoLe Code de l&rsquoindigénat&rsquo in French, was adopted in June 1881 and applied in all French colonies in 1887. In general terms, the law subjected natives and immigrant workers to forced labor, deprived them from their fundamental rights and made them subject to a tax on their reserves and to many others degrading measures. These measures intended to make sure that &lsquogood colonial order&rsquo, was always in effect.

&lsquoL&rsquoindigénat&rsquo distinguished two categories of citizens: French citizens (from the mainland) and French subjects (indigenous people). French subjects and immigrant workers were deprived of the greater part of their freedom and political rights. On the civilian level, they retained only their personal status. [7]

As Algeria was a French department, Algerian people could have citizenship (by naturalization) only if they renounced their civil status of Muslim. It was only after 1919 that naturalization was possible for Muslims but several conditions had to be met such as being over 25, being veteran, owner of a company or officer. This system of social and juridical inequality was abolished in 1946.

Besides implementing &lsquoL&rsquoindigénat&rsquo, the French also educated the young African generation to tailor their concerns. The school system in colonies had two main goals One of them was to inflict the European way of thinking and spread French civilization and language. Another one was to train local labour force for colonial interests.

In Algeria, from 1892 to 1948, education system was composed of two sub-systems: the first system was similar to the French one, where it gathered all the Europeans and some rich Algerians&rsquo sons. The second one was mainly composed by primary education called &lsquospecial education for indigenous&rsquo and had a civilizing mission.

Thereby, French was the only language allowed at school and education for indigenous was composed of practical works to train obedient subjects ready to serve and feed the Empire&rsquos economy. Textbooks addressed to indigenous education were based on the ideology that, &lsquoFrance considers you as its children, we want you to be honest, good and able to become excellent laborers&rsquo. [8]

Inequalities were also visible in school access. For example, in 1889, hardly 2% of school-age Muslim children (aged 6 to 14 years old) had access to schools compared to 84% for European school-age children. In 1943, slightly less than 10% of school-age Muslim children had access to schools. [9] It was a clear paradoxical situation in provinces belonging to a democratic and egalitarian country.

On the other hand, Senegalese Tirailleurs intervened in all the colonial conflicts and the World Wars. The Senegalese Tirailleurs were a troop of soldiers within the French Army recruited in sub-Saharan French colonies. They were created by Louis Faidherbe in 1857, a military governor of Senegal (hence the name of those battalions). Senegalese Tirailleurs were mainly former slaves who were purchased by the French authorities upon release. They then signed an 'act of liberation&rsquo and an &lsquoemployment contract&rsquo for a service that lasted between 10 and 15 years.

During the First World War, about 134,000 Senegalese Tirailleurs served on the Western Front and were placed at the forefront. About 350,000 were recruited during the Second World War.

During the Liberation in the Second World War, French General Staff replaced black soldiers by white soldiers from metropolitan France, calling this action &lsquoblanchiment&rsquo or &lsquowhitening of the army&rsquo. Demobilized soldiers were then sent to transit camps like the camp of Thiaroye in Dakar. At the time, military authorities affirmed that the African soldiers were demobilized because they were not used to the cold. However, today some historians contest this statement by saying that the demobilization aimed to celebrate victory without the presence of black soldiers and to make it look like French people had emancipated themselves from the war.

According to the official French version, in Thiaroye on 1 st December 1944, black soldiers started to shoot on French officers demanding more money. Officers were therefore obliged to respond with repression, resulting in the deaths of 35 Senegalese Tirailleurs. However, 70 years after (in 2014), this official version was contested by many researches including those of Armelle Mabon, a historian and lecturer in the University of Bretagne Sud. Armelle Mabon talked about &lsquoa planned mass crimes&rsquo in her interview with &lsquoLe Monde&rsquo. She said that this event was in reality organized by the French authorities to avoid paying Senegalese Tirailleurs by killing them. She affirmed that the death toll greatly exceeded 35 (between 300 and 400 deaths buried in mass graves). [10]


The rise of nationalist movements, instability, underdevelopment, corruption and violence in the colonies as well as the independence of India paved the way for decolonisation of Africa that occurred in different ways. Some were peaceful as in sub-Saharan Africa while others were very violent like those of Algeria.

For example, in Tunisia a nationalist movement (Neo Destour Party) led by Bourguiba emerged. The same way, in Morocco, the nationalist Istiqlal Party, led by Allal El-Fassi and Ahmed Balafre (supported by the sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef) became very popular. Initially, they demanded autonomy and reforms but after the second World War, they claimed for independence. France first responded with repression. Some demonstrators were killed and the leaders were imprisoned. Then negotiations led to internal autonomy in 1954 and to independence in 1956. Nationalists leaders, Bourguiba and Mohammed Ben Youssef, became respectively president of Tunisia and King of Morocco.

French sub-Saharan Africa is the example of peaceful decolonisation. France seemed to have weaker commitments as few settlers lived there and it was already concerned by the Algerian problem. Per consequent, these colonies obtained their independence more easily, without any conflict. For example, in 1946, France established the French Union which allowed the colonized to elect deputies in the French Parliament. In 1956, the Defferre framework law (Loi-cadre Defferre) gave a considerable degree of internal autonomy to France's African territories. They could now have an autonomous assembly elected by universal suffrage. Finally, in 1958, De Gaulle asked to colonies to chose whether they want to be independent or to be a part of the French Community (The second option giving more autonomy to colonies). Except Guinea, all the colonies chose the independence and obtained it in 1960.

In Algeria decolonization was the most difficult and the bloodiest one. France had a special commitment towards Algeria as it was considered as a French department and more than 1 million Europeans called &lsquoPieds-Noirs&rsquo lived there. Algeria obtained its independence after a long and painful war which lasted 8 years (1954-1962). The French army responded by violence to the Algerian nationalist attacks of National Liberation Front (FLN). Massacres, summary executions and tortures were then done in both sides. This escalation of violence favored General de Gaulle&rsquos return to power. He ended the conflict by signing the Evian Agreements. The independence was finally proclaimed in 1962.

However, despite the independence, all former colonies maintains close ties with France today. This is what we can call neocolonialism.

French Neocolonialism in Africa

At the time when independences were being negotiated, France took advantage of the situation and lured its colonies to sign cooperation agreements promoting its interests. Those agreements, sometimes called as neo-colonial pacts, allowed France a direct interference in its former colonies&rsquo affairs in order to control them. This marked the beginning of French neo-colonial dominance.

De Gaulle (the President of France at the time) tried to transfer power to politicians proponents of &lsquoLa Françafrique&rsquo like Houphouët-Boigny and Léopold Senghor who became respectively the first President of the Ivory Coast and the first President of Senegal. The latter were supporting the &lsquopaternal role&rsquo of France, believing that it was to help them after the independence. Other leaders like Silvanus Olimpio (the first President of Togo), who were in favour of a new State and to be entirely independent from France, were assassinated.

Cooperation agreements included diverse issues (economic, monetary, cultural, juridical and military&hellip) and most of them were done in secret. They aimed not only to provide means in order to form new armies capable of facing the Cold War pressures (size, training, provision of weapons - everything was planned). But they also consisted in maintaining the ties that held Africans under the domination of France.

Through the same way, these agreements imposed French as the official language of the new territories and required colonies to retain the franc CFA as the national currency. Furthermore, they provided France with privileged access to its former colonies&rsquo raw materials and markets. Economic cooperation agreements maintained trade preferences between France and new independent States. In return, France had to guarantee national security and provide a steady flow of aid. In other words, it had to protect its former colonies, provide them with military assistance and help them to develop through economic assistance (ODA/Official Development Assistance).

The planned cooperations were no less than continued dependence. It was actually the transition from colonialism to neocolonialism. Just after the proclamation of independence, there were eight agreements signed with eight different African States (Cameroun, Central Africa Republic, the Comoros, the Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Gabon, Senegal and Togo). Today, even if some of them have been revised or suppressed, they still have effect on governments.

ODA development assistance or a dependence appliance?

The Official Development Assistance (ODA) is an assistance provided by developed States, to improve the economic development and living standards of developing countries.

Since decolonization, some Northern countries (including France) have provided economic help to developing countries. France was the fifth largest global donor in 2016 with 10.1 billion euros. 1/4 of its bilateral ODA was used to subsidize sub-Saharan projects. The first rank recipient of French bilateral ODA in the region was Cameroun (&euro215.12 million), followed by Senegal (&euro79.3 million) and Ghana (&euro68.11 million).

However, the ODA&rsquos effectiveness is doubtful. While the proportion of development assistance (provided for more than a half-century) is increasing every year, most of the sub-Saharan countries remain dependent and poor. For instance, the total global ODA was less than 80 billion dollars in 2000 and 142.6 billion dollars in 2016, being 8.9% higher than 2015. This results in the drop of ODA for poor countries.

ODA is often criticized as an instrument of corruption. It allows statesman and elites to become richer at the expense of local population. Corrupt leaders often use the loans for their own benefits instead of financing projects for the sake of their country. This explains the underdevelopment in most of the African countries, affected by corruption. In the book &lsquoDead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa&rsquo, Dambisa Moyo, Zambian woman economist, says &lsquoWith aid&rsquos help, corruption fosters corruption, nations quickly descend into a vicious cycle of aid&rsquo. She depicts the vicious cycle of aid, &lsquoIn response to growing poverty, donors give more aid, which continues the downward spiral of poverty. This is the vicious cycle of aid&rsquo.

On the other hand, developed countries use ODA as a means of pressure on developing countries. African States, getting deeper in debt, are compelled to remain subject to Northern needs. This situation is helping to accentuate their poverty instead of improving the situation. To ensure its effectiveness, ODA needs to be reviewed urgently.

Trade Relations Between France and Africa

France and Africa have a special trade relationship. Economic and trade relations between France and Africa are characterized by diverse factors due to changes in French and African economies but also to the colonial and postcolonial historical past.

During the Cold War, France maintained strong political and economic links with its former colonies fearing communist and capitalist expansion. It considered new African states as an essential element of its international influence hence provided them with assistance and budgetary support. The collapse of the Berlin Wall, the end of the USSR, the enlargement of Europe and the acceleration of globalization resulted into standardization in France-Africa relations.

Despite everything, France remains an important trade partner for Africa. It is the second largest European exporter to the continent after Germany. According to &lsquoFrance Diplomatie&rsquo over a third of French exporters export to Africa.

Bilateral trade between France and the Ivory Coast remains strong and is an important feature of the larger relationships between the two countries. In fact, the Ivory Coast accounted for about 32% of French exportations to Western Africa in 2018. Conversely, the majority of French imports from Western Africa come from Ivory Coast. In September 2018, we could observe trade surpluses for France with every Western African country. This means that it exported more than it imported. Except for the Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger and Togo, French exports to Western African countries increased.

Moreover, the French public agency, Business France, encourage French companies to invest in Africa. Each year it organises &lsquoAmbition Africa&rsquo event to facilitate French and African businesses to meet over three days. The latter aims to familiarize French businesses that are not yet present in Africa with the continent&rsquos key trade issues.

All of this proves French special interest in Africa, that is also manifested by economic and trade agreements since decolonization. The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) is one current example of these agreements at the European level. Research proves that foreign aid promotes exports for the donor country (France in our case). Per consequent, the special trade relationship between France and Africa cannot only be explained by the colonial historical past but also by the economic assistance that France gives to sub-Saharan countries. However, nowadays, even if &lsquola Grande nation&rsquo has not lost sight of its own interests, it is losing market share due to the growing competition from emerging countries, especially from China.

French Companies in Africa

Following the 1980&rsquos wave of privatization and due to Africa&rsquos natural ressources, Northern and emerging countries&rsquo firms have been predominant in Africa. According to &lsquoFrance Diplomatie&rsquo, in 2017, there were more than 2,109 French subsidiaries in the continent. In order to enhance their presence, those companies invest heavily. For instance, French FDI flows to Africa have increased tenfold between 2000 and 2017. Nevertheless it had the third largest FDI stock after the UK and the USA in 2017.

French companies maintain a massive presence in the ex-colonies and intervene in several sectors such as:

  • Energy (example: Total)
  • Transport (example: Air France)
  • Industry (example: Lafarge)
  • Construction (example: Bouygues, Sogea-Satom)
  • Services (example: BNP Paribas, Bolloré)
  • Mass distribution (example: CFAO)
  • Agro-industry (example: Bel)
  • Telecommunication (example: Orange, France Telecom)

Total is making one-third of its hydrocarbon production in Africa. Eramet is producing manganese alloys for steel industry in Gabon. Bolloré has hectares of palm groves in Cameroun. Orange is present in 19 African countries and affirms to have more than 100 million African clients. Three French banks such as Banque National de Paris, Société Générale and Crédit Lyonnais had accounted for some 70% of the turnover of all banks within the Franc CFA zone in 2006.

Economic Exploitation

Besides special trade relations between France and Africa, the French do not hesitate to exploit Africa economically. It is the case when they intervene in Africa&rsquos monetary policy or when they exploit Africa&rsquos natural ressources. Some people even denounce that France gets rich thanks to ressources in its former colonies lands.

One example of this exploitation is the CFA Franc (African Financial Community or Cooperation Franc) which was created in December 1945 under the government of De Gaulle, and is the last colonial currency still working today. It is the common currency of 14 African States in Central and Western Africa (+ The Comoros) bounded by a policy of monetary cooperation. There are two monetary institutions for the two respective zones namely the Central Bank of Central African States (CEMAC) and the Central Bank of Western African States (UEMOA), both influenced by the Bank of France, with the right to veto over decisions.

While France presently supports the advantages of this currency for Africa, many economists like Demba Moussa Dembélé accuse it to slow African countries&rsquo development down, &lsquothe CFA Franc is an obstacle to the economic development because it does not benefit small and medium-sized enterprises&rsquo.

From the perspective of France, this currency has many advantages for Africa because it offers a fixed exchange rate with euro (1&euro = 655 CFA), price stability, free movement of capital within the CFA Franc zone and unlimited convertibility to euro. Countries using the CFA Franc might have &lsquoa certain credibility on the international level&rsquo and must be attractive for foreign investment. However, if those advantages do not allow the development of Africa, what good are they for? And in whose benefits are they for?

It is the French Treasury that guarantees the unlimited convertibility of the CFA Franc to euro. In return, countries in the CFA Franc zone are required to deposit 50% of their foreign exchange surpluses into a French operations account. Besides, due to the fixed parity, countries that use the CFA Franc suffer from the highly valued euro and have difficulties to export their goods because their prices are not competitive. For example, they cannot devalue the currency or create money according to their needs. On the other hand, they purchase most of the foreign goods in a strong currency (euro) while they sell local products in dollars (a weaker currency). Per consequent, they have higher expenditures and lower revenues. Fixed parity with euro seems to benefit more foreign investors who want to repatriate their money.

African economists denounce a &lsquomonetary servitude&rsquo. According to Demba Moussa Dembélé, those bank deposits &lsquodeprive concerned countries of cash&rsquo. &lsquoCan you imagine the European Central Bank deposit 50% of their exchange reserves to Washington? This seems to be unthinkable&rsquo affirmed Dembélé.

On the other hand, resource-rich countries (like most of the African States) are among the less developed countries. There is a paradox that many economists label as &lsquoresource curse&rsquo, which leaves us with question. Indeed, Niger, which has uranium, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has diamonds, gold and cobalt are two of the 10 poorest countries of the world. What are the reasons for this?

On the one hand, it is difficult to manage and regulate natural ressources when there are corruption, political crisis, embezzlement and traffickers. According to a 2014 report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 19% of corruption cases occur in extractive industries (mining, oil and gas sector) that concerned many African States. As Angel Gurria (the Secretary-General of the OECD) pointed out, corruption causes significant damage to the country&rsquos economic growth and development, which is one of the reasons for Africa&rsquos underdevelopment.

On the other hand, the situation will not improve so long as Northern governments (including France) support and finance corrupted regimes faithful to their interests. In fact, Africa suffers from Northern countries&rsquo commitment to exploit their natural ressources and become more powerful. Many Northern multinational firms, present in the African continent, are accused of looting and misappropriation of funds. Their activities often receive criticism and people denounce their plundering of natural ressources that disrespect the environment and the rights of the workers.

For example, Total was sued by NGOs that believe the oil company was not respecting the French legislation imposing a &lsquoduty of vigilance&rsquo abroad. Its Tilenga project in Ouganda could reportedly lead to 50,000 people displacement and can have serious consequences on the environment. [11]

Similarly, in Arlit (Niger), Orano (ex Areva) has been mining uranium since 1976. Its exploitation causes serious damage on people and the environment that Amina Weira, a Nigerian director denounced in her documentary &lsquola colère dans le vent&rsquo. In fact, during a part of the year, radioactive winds of sand blew and covered up the whole city because of Orano&rsquos activity. As radioactivity is invisible, people are not informed of the potential threat. &lsquoSince my childhood, I have been seeing people suffering strange disease that cannot be named&rsquo she says.

Furthermore, unpaid taxes have negative impacts on local populations: less funding for infrastructures, environmental conservation, education, health and feeding program. It is difficult to prove embezzlement with figures because there is a lack of transparency due to corruption. However, progress has been made thanks to Publish What You Pay (a group of civil society organizations that advocates for financial transparency in the extractive industry).

French Military Presence in Africa

Despite the independences, France has maintained a military presence in Africa. Defense agreements allowed French troops to intervene in the continent since the 1960s. Africa has been the setting for 60 military operations where France has been involved since the independence. This also constitutes a pillar of neocolonialism.

There are two types of French military presence abroad Opex and pre-positioned forces.

  • Opex are military missions that initially aim to maintain peace. 45% of Opex troops are deployed in Africa.
  • Pre-positioned forces are deployed permanently outside the metropolitan France. Today, France has four permanent bases in Africa Djibouti, Senegal, Gabon and the Ivory Coast, all being former colonies. Those forces have a strategic role, which is to protect France and its economic interests as well as intervene quickly when necessary.

Today more than 20,000 French soldiers are deployed outside the metropolitan France. Claiming to be an advocate of peace, France intervenes in many African conflicts using the pretext of &lsquointervention against terrorism&rsquo or &lsquohelp to restore security at the request of the country concerned President&rsquo. This was the case with Operation Serval in Mali (2013-2014) and Operation Barkhane in the Sahel since 2014.

Derived from a misdivision (due to colonization), many African States are inhabited by several ethnic groups with different cultures and religions. Ethnic differences, poverty and political instability are thus major sources of conflict threatening the continent. For instance, Mali is divided between more than 10 different ethnic groups. The Malian conflict started when some terrorists (AQMI, ANSAR DINE, MUJAO) and an arabo-berber group (Touaregs) invaded North Mali.

The image of France coming to deal with terrorism may be true, but it loses value when its sole purpose is to preserve French interests when they are threatened. In fact, the repression of rebel movements or the elimination of terrorist groups means less disputes, less opponents and by anyway an easier implantation and exploitation of natural resources. For example, during the Operation Serval, it first secured the cities of Gao and Kidal, both being potential zones of uranium exploitation.

French intervention in African conflicts seems to be useless because most of the time it does not resolve the problems. For instance, neither territorial problems are solved nor safety is insured in Mali today. Furthermore, French soldiers did little to stop the bloodbath when the Hutu regime in Rwanda murdered about 800,000 Tutsis in the 1994 genocide. All of these events question their involvement as peacekeepers and prove just how incapable they are to solve problems.

Moreover, there seems to be a lack of coherence in French interventions when they support some African dictators or corrupt leaders (who are in favor of French interests) on the one hand and fight for freedom and Human Rights on the other hand. It is the case with Idriss Déby, the president of Tchad since 1990. Déby, in favour of &lsquoLa Françafrique&rsquo, is known for his authoritarian practices (which do not respect Human Rights), and is supported by France. This is a paradoxical situation because it is coming from a country that promotes peace.

Dusk of &lsquoFrançafrique, Dawn of &lsquoChinafrique&rsquo

To put it in a nutshell, &lsquoLa Françafrique&rsquo changed aspects according to the economic and geopolitical context over time. Even if relations between France and Africa are weaker today than they were in the colonial times, &lsquoLa Françafrique&rsquo is not completely over as François Hollande affirmed. Indeed, insofar as the CFA Franc exists, cooperation and defense agreements are not suppressed and France interferes in African affairs according to its needs, we cannot speak of an eventual end of &lsquoLa Françafrique&rsquo. Africa and its resources are still a topical issue in French politics.

However, today France is facing growing competition from emerging countries especially from China, which has been the largest trading partner of the continent in recent years. Chinese firms are challenging those in French in many sectors. For example, Bolloré has lost the construction project of a railway line connecting the Ivory Coast to Benin against a Chinese company. Moreover, according to a survey published by &lsquoAfrobaromètre&rsquo in 2016, 63% of Africans are in favour of the Chinese presence. The French influence decreases while the Chinese one increases. We may talk about a transition from &lsquoFrançafrique&rsquo to &lsquoChinafrique&rsquo in the future.

War of 1812–1815

As an important neutral trading nation, the United States became ensnarled in the European conflict that pitted Napoleonic France against Great Britain and her continental allies.

In 1806 France prohibited all neutral trade with Great Britain and in 1807 Great Britain banned trade between France, her allies, and the Americas. Congress passed an embargo act in 1807 in retaliation, prohibiting U.S. vessels from trading with European nations, and later the Non-Intercourse Acts, aimed solely at France and Britain. The embargo and non-intercourse act proved ineffective and in 1810 the United States reopened trade with France and Great Britain provided they ceased their blockades against neutral trading. Great Britain continued to stop American merchant ships to search for Royal Navy deserters, to impress American seamen on the high seas into the Royal Navy, and to enforce its blockade of neutral commerce. Madison made the issue of impressment from ships under the American flag a matter of national sovereignty—even after the British agreed to end the practice—and asked Congress for a declaration of War on Great Britain on June 1, 1812. Many who supported the call to arms saw British and Spanish territory in North America as potential prizes to be won by battle or negotiations after a successful war.

Pro-British Federalists in Washington were outraged by what they considered Republican favoritism toward France. The leading Republican, Thomas Jefferson responded, that “the English being equally tyrannical at sea as he [Napoleon] is on land, and that tyranny bearing on us in every point of either honor or interest, I say ‘down with England.’” The United States declared the war on Britain. After Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign of 1812, the British concentrated on the American continent, enacting a crippling blockading of the east coast, attacking Washington and burning the White House and other Government buildings, and acquiring territory in Maine and the Great Lakes region. American forces, however, won important naval and military victories at sea, on Lake Champlain, and at Baltimore and Detroit. Canadians defeated an American invasion of Lower Canada. By 1814 neither side could claim a clear victory and both war weary combatants looked to a peaceful settlement.

Under the mediation of the Czar of Russia, Great Britain and the United States came together in the summer of 1814 to negotiate the terms of peace. On Christmas Eve British and American negotiators signed the Treaty of Ghent, restoring the political boundaries on the North American continent to the status quo ante bellum, establishing a boundary commission to resolve further territorial disputes, and creating peace with Indian nations on the frontier. As the Ghent negotiations suggested, the real causes of the war of 1812, were not merely commerce and neutral rights, but also western expansion, relations with American Indians, and territorial control of North America.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Turkish law guarantees equal pay for equal work and has opened practically all educational programs and occupations to women. Exceptions are the religious schools that train imams (Islamic prayer leaders) and the job of imam itself. In general, men dominate the high-status occupations in business, the military, government, the professions, and academia. According to traditional values, women should do domestic work and not work in the public arena or with unrelated men. However, women have begun to work more in public.

Lower-class women generally have worked as maids, house cleaners, women's tailors, seamstresses, child care givers, agricultural laborers, and nurses, but in the early 1990s, about 20 percent of factory employees and many store clerks were women. Middle-class women commonly are employed as teachers and bank tellers, while upper-class women work as doctors, lawyers, engineers, and university teachers. Only a small percentage of women are politicians.

Men work in all these fields but avoid the traditional nonagricultural occupations of lower-class women. Men monopolize the officer ranks in the military and the transportation occupations of pilot and taxi, truck, and bus driver. In urban areas, lower-class men work in crafts, manufacturing, and low-paid service industries. Middle-class men work as teachers, accountants, businessmen, and middle-level managers. Upper-class men work as university teachers, professionals, upper-level managers, businessmen, and entrepreneurs.

France’s nature and wildlife

France has lots of land area to provide habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals. More than 25 percent of its territory is covered with forest, and another 50 percent is countryside or farmland.

Lowland forests are home to deer and wild boar, while the woodlands of the Alps and Pyrenees provide refuge for rare chamois antelope, ibex, brown bears and alpine hares, among many other species. The Mediterranean coastline is a stopover for millions of migrating African birds, too, including flamingos, vultures, egrets and bee-eaters.

The French government has made a broad commitment to preserving open spaces and the wildlife they contain. In fact, about ten percent of the country has been set aside as national or regional parklands and nature reserves.

The Alps in the southeast of France are home to forests, lakes and snowcapped peaks!


Francafrique symbolizes the French relationship with its former African colonies. The term was first used by Côte d'Ivoire’s former president Félix Houphouët-Boigny to express the role of France in improving the political and economic stability of the country. Today, the term has acquired a negative sense and is mostly used to refer to the neocolonial relationship between France and the colonies. After independence in the 1960s, most of the French colonies in Africa were thrown into a civil conflict that still ravages across the states. France has been forced to intervene militarily in the colonies with the aim of restoring peace. The former colonial power has set up military bases in Djibouti, Senegal, and Gabon. Currently, it is actively engaged in military activities in Chad, Mali, Ivory Coast and the Central African Republic.

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