France wants to be more active in information warfare

“We will not be patient bystanders” as we witness the spread of false information or narratives hostile to France, the French president said in Toulon.

Regularly taken in charge, particularly in Africa, France has decided to take a more active role in the information war by erecting “influence“To the degree of”strategic priority“, Announced on Wednesday 9 November, Emmanuel Macron.

We will not be patient bystandershelping in the dissemination of false information or narratives hostile to France, the French president said in Toulon while presenting the priorities of France’s defense strategy, without explicitly targeting any country. In recent years, Paris has regularly claimed that it has been the subject of disinformation and opinion manipulation campaigns through social networks, orchestrated by foreign powers such as Russia or Turkey.

hybrid warfare

Faced with this form of hybrid warfare, which takes place in a multitude of theaters, including immaterial ones such as that of information, France wants to be more aggressive. The situation in the Sahel illustrates the evolution of the French attitude over the years and the deployment of state resources. After being somewhat surprised by the rise in anti-French sentiment attributed to Russian intrigues, the French authorities mobilized.

The armies have come forward, for example to attribute to the Russian paramilitary group Wagner the construction of a mass grave near a former French base that should allow French soldiers to be accused. Then the Foreign Ministry, which reacted promptly during the latest coup in Burkina Faso to deny that France was hosting the overthrown head of state. Or even preemptively, during the violent repression of demonstrations in Chad, to affirm that France has nothing to do with these events.

We have seen enough how in Africa (…) often at the instigation of external actors, mischievous stories take hold, multiply by games of mirrors, bots, trolls“, Accused Emmanuel Macron.

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The requirement to “convince”

Influence will now be a strategic function with substantial resources“, He explained, specifying that this will take place at an inter-ministerial level, with”due to its international reach, a central role for the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs“. France will have to knowdetect without delaythese forms of hybrid warfare, theget in the way” And “our turn, but in the manner of a democracy, to anticipate it, to use it to our advantageMr. Macron said.

Paris is therefore putting its resources in order, both internally and externally. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has established a subdirectory for monitoring and strategy and the General Staff of the Armed Forces has appointed a general in charge of these matters.

On the French domestic theater, the government created Viginum last year, a body responsible for detecting interference in democratic life, and the various state security services have resources allocated to this issue.

Strict respect for the rule of law

Outside France, in addition to the defensive component, Paris also wants to develop an active policy to promote its action. “Convincing is clearly part of the strategic requirements“Said the French president. “It is therefore up to us to think about the promotionof the action of France, “without pride, but without unwelcome inhibitions“, He added.

On the other hand, the various sources interviewed by the AFP all assured that France’s action would always remain in strict compliance with the rule of law. And without resorting to the same means as the illiberal states accused of being behind this hybrid war, this “digital bestiary“Established by”our rivals to challenge our security and our influence and to spread, in addition to false reports, an appetite for violence, to manipulate civilian populations“, In the words of the president.

We will not create troll farmsto artificialize the dissemination of certain information, says a security source.

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