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Defense policy cannot remain the blind spot of public debate, denounce socialist senators

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War is at the gates of the European Union. What was unthinkable a few months ago is today the tragic reality and brings us back to the darkest hours of our history. To deal with it, France must adopt a clear and shared defense strategy. The new strategic national review (RNS), presented by the President of the Republic in Toulon, on November 9, is not up to the crisis we are going through. Supposed to set the strategic framework in which the work of drawing up the next military programming law (LPM) which will run over the period 2024-2030, is appallingly weak, not to say empty.

First of all, we regret the method once again chosen by the executive to finalize this text of major importance for the years to come: work carried out in a vacuum, far from any democratic and parliamentary debate, like the defense councils in which the Chief of the Armed Forces defined the health policy of our country for two years of ” war “ against the pandemic.

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In his speech on November 9, the Head of State thanked the parliamentarians of the commissions consulted on this Review. Can we talk about “consultation” when the minister makes a simple oral presentation in front of a few deputies and senators who have not been able to read the text beforehand and this ten days before the Toulon speech? Does the consultation consist, in the perspective of the examination of the next LPM, in drowning the parliamentary word in plethoric working groups without real capacity for reflection or decision? Obviously, we do not have the same notion of democratic debate. The commitment of the Nation, as it is claimed, supposes that the Parliament is fully associated, and in real conditions of exchanges.

Depoliticization of defense choices

Already last year, ignoring the letter of the law, the government did not consider it necessary to submit an update to the LPM to Parliament and contented itself with making marginal adjustments, accompanied by a simple debate without legislative value. We deplore this depoliticization of the choices made in the area of ​​defence, which allows the government to work on the sly without having to be accountable.

Where will the spark come from that will ignite a conflagration in Europe?

This development process perhaps explains the shortcomings of the new RNS in which nothing is up to the challenges or the gravity of the geopolitical context. However, the issue of strategic stocks [N.D.L.R. : Stocks de denrées vitales mais dont l’approvisionnement est fragile], central for two years, should imperatively be the subject of a global reflection. We would have liked this reflection to have been completed before writing this RNS, and enriched by feedback from the health crisis and the eight months of war in Ukraine. Similarly, we learn that a “war economy preparedness plan” is under development. It is time, indeed, because an LPM ” of war “ will necessarily have to finance stocks and industrial production overcapacity, well beyond current armament programmes. The RNS predicts that“a renovation of the concept of operational defense of the territory will also be undertaken”, and this, without the gendarmerie or the SGDSN (General Secretariat for Defense and National Security) having been associated with its drafting. Isn’t this a political subject of the utmost importance, which impacts all territories and is of particular interest to local elected officials?

Degradation of our means

In addition to these announcements, which have no place in a doctrine document supposed to set a course, the RNS inflicts on us a series of statements devoid of interest. But the worst is not in these weaknesses of form, which an examination by Parliament would not have allowed to subsist. Basically, everything suggests that we are going to move, in the next LPM, from a “complete army model”, which refers to the best international operational standards, to a “credible, coherent and balanced army model”which says nothing about the ambitions to be achieved and rather reveals a deterioration in our resources.

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Within the framework of current institutions and representative democracy, Socialist senators campaign tirelessly for Parliament to be able to fully exercise its role of information and control on defense issues, which should not be the prerogative of experts. techniques. Parliament confers essential transparency and expertise on such strategic decisions, which generate budgetary efforts and substantial military commitments. He demonstrated this during the examination of this LPM, which the Senate had largely enriched and supported.

The President of the Republic cannot call for the Nation’s commitment to a “war economy” without the national representation being associated. Defense policy cannot remain the blind spot of French public debate. Clearly, a democratic debate is necessary for citizens to take up issues that impact their destiny and to clarify the level of ambition of the future LPM. That is why we solemnly ask the government to hold an annual debate in plenary session on the commitments of our armies, whether internal or external.

Marie-Arlette CARLOTTI; Helene CONWAY-MOURET; Gisèle JOURDA; Gilbert ROGER; Rachid TEMAL; Jean-Marc TODESCHINI; Mickaël VALLET; André VALLINI; Yannick VAUGRENARD – all socialist senators.

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