A former French Prime Minister unveiled a detailed and very ambitious plan to form a Eurafrican Axis in the New Cold War as a means of “balancing” between East and West, but what he’s really calling for is a policy of ‘controlled’ ‘replacement migration’ coupled with refined neo-imperial political and economic models for making France the ‘missing’ African hegemon.
Dominique de Villepin, a career diplomat and France’s former Prime Minister from 2005-2007, unveiled a detailed and very ambitious plan to form a Eurafrican Axis while speaking at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) at the beginning of the week. His strategic proposal deserves to be examined in depth because of the overall significance that it holds in the context of the New Cold War, especially in regards to what he says are his larger motivations in suggesting it.
His opening remarks even included the provocative assertion that he “believes the capacity of America and Asia to avoid a large scale confrontation that could destroy the world order depends on a strong Euro-African backbone”. He later made it clear that “Asia” is basically a euphemism for Russia and China, both of whom pursue a “model based on authority, nationalism and economic state-planning and strict defense of state sovereignty in foreign policy” which he believes justifies the US’ National Security Strategy (“The Trump Doctrine”) labelling them as “revisionist powers”.
Based on this understanding as revealed in his speech, there’s no doubt that he envisions a future where the Eurasian Great Powers of Russia and China (and by extension, their Golden Ring partners of Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey) vie with the new Eurafrican Axis for dominance in the Eastern Hemisphere, although he disingenuously states tries to disguise this coming face-off through misleading rhetoric about the latter arrangement being the “logic of multipolarity” that will “not compete, even less confront, the initiatives of America, Russia or China”.
In reality, the Eurafrican Axis is really just a massive longitudinal manifestation of the US’ “Lead From Behind” strategy for adapting unipolarity to multipolarity through the formation of complex proxy coalitions, though in this context through America’s “special” French partner taking the lead in pioneering a neo-imperial continental takeover. The former Prime Minister laments that “there is no natural hegemonic power for the whole continent”, hinting that his country could fulfill that role in order to build the “dedicated governance body” that he says is needed for managing EU-African relations.
Speaking quite candidly, he said that “the Africa-Europe partnership will be driven by crisis management”, pointing to the Sahel, Congolese, and Horn of Africa conflicts that stretch from Africa’s Atlantic coast to its Indian one and contribute to forming what the author recently characterized as “Migrant Crisis 2.0”. Apart from the obvious security implications that this holds in intimating an indefinite and likely expanded French military presence all throughout the continent (to say nothing of the US’ presently existing one through AFRICOM), there’s also an economic-integrational dimension that’s designed to unofficially compete with China’s Silk Road.
In gearing the listeners up for his pitch, Villepin expresses remorse that Africa presently provides “a lack of sufficient financial returns” in spite of France controlling the economies of over a dozen countries through the West African and Central African Francs that are issued by Paris. What he’s probably referring to, then, is the relatively lengthy return on investment that ‘average’ European (French) entrepreneurs have to wait for in Africa and which makes them think that investments there aren’t worthwhile or worth the risk. The solution, Villepin believes, is “a public and collective vehicle to promote investment and hedge against risks, specially (sic) against political risks”.
The former French Premier praised Rwanda’s initiative last month to roll out an EU-like “Continental Free Trade Area” all across Africa, which he thinks would be greatly enhanced by a trilateral partnership “between the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank” in order to counter the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) that China founded to fund its Silk Road projects. This in turn is expected to enable enable the construction of “transnational transport infrastructure”, which will again seek to unofficially counter China in Africa.
Considering how far behind France and its allies are in doing this throughout Africa, it’s more than likely that Paris will have to activate the “Hex” (the “Quad” plus Vietnam and France) and then urge its members to throw massive amounts of resources into the Indo-Japanese “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” as soon as possible in order to stand any chance whatsoever at making a dent in China’s developmental dominance in the continent. Nevertheless, prudently choosing to also invest in “people first” (soft infrastructure) and the creation of a (French-controlled) “special cultural board” dealing with movies, art, and education might give the “Hex” a soft power edge and yield positive perception management dividends for it.
All in all, Villepin is seeking to sell the Eurafrican Axis to Europeans on the basis of it helping them engage in ‘controlled’ ‘replacement migration’ through the creation of a long-term ‘crisis management mechanism’, one which he hopes will also appeal to Africans because of its ‘developmental’ dimension even though the entire proposal is essentially a rebranding of Paris’ decades-old “Françafrique” policy of neo-colonialism, albeit this time on a continental scale and qualitatively enhanced through the active participation of the “Hex”. The announcement of this gargantuan “Lead From Behind” structure therefore heralds in a new “Scramble for Africa” that’s bound to eventually lead to a series of Hybrid War flashpoints here as the New Cold War continues unabated.