At a time when France will honor the unknown soldier on November 11, Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday wished more than a century after the establishment of a national influence strategy to better protect the country from hybrid attacks, especially information attacks, which could be as devastating as an old-fashioned battlefield. The current period with its numerous international crises “marks an unprecedented leap into the hybrid universe, which is certainly as old as war, but in which some powers have been able to integrate and multiply harmful practices in the digital age”the Head of State warned Wednesday during his speech in Toulon, where he presented the National Strategic Review.
“Also, too, L’influence It will now be a strategic function endowed with enormous resources and coordinated at an inter-ministerial level, with, for its international application, a central role for the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs ”, promised Emmanuel Macron.
In all its dimensions: diplomatic, military, economic, cultural, sporting, linguistic, informative -, l‘influence it is an area of controversy, which now requires a much better coordinated response from France. This strategy ofthe flu adapts for the first time in a long time. For example, it is necessary to resume in a more strategic and systematic way the training of foreign soldiers and foreign elites, the organization of networks, the contribution to university research, aid for economic development, etc … as suggested by the Strategy National Revision. Which is just a matter of common sense. This strategy also leads to knowledge of the levers of influence deployed by our partners, competitors and opponents.
The Quai d’Orsay in the center of the device
France must capitalize, the Elysée explains, on its own numerous assets (civil and military but also economic) such as its status in the Council of United Nations securityhis territorial extensions (Oltremare), the French languageversuscomfortable who is spoken by 300 million people, etc. This new strategic function it naturally fits into a logic of very strong inter-ministerial coordination under the impetus of the Quai d’Orsay thanks to its international deployment. But, beyond the necessary organizational work, is the latter ready to take on the role of combat diplomacy and rethink this function? “We must therefore take on the balance of power in this field more directly to defend the national interest”, write the authors of the National Strategic Review (RNS). In particular, this will make it possible to understand and accept France’s commitment on the international stage.
The Quai d’Orsay has created a sub-direction of L’influence, which will animate the network of embassies in this spirit. “We see that there is a convergence in the adaptation of the functioning of ministries and indeed a frontal grasp of this function which is not new but which we are adapting in a context that is becoming increasingly aggressive and increasingly uninhibited,” we specify at the Elysée. ” But there are a series of actions that fall below the central level “, we also observe. Such as the deployment of the aircraft carrier battle group in a region.
A real war behind the scenes
Awareness of this information warfare is not new – it was already spotted in the 2017 Strategic Magazine – but this influencing theme has gained ground to become a strategic function today. “This new feature is a key element of our ability to promote France’s interests and thwart the actions of our competitors across the entire hybridization spectrum.”, explains the RNS. For example, the food weapon and the migratory weapon were used. The COVID-19 pandemic and then the war in Ukraine highlighted the importance of food as a lever forinfluence and compulsion by some regimes.
This desire to establish influence as a strategic function is therefore clearly taken into account hybrid threats that France faces in the field of information. Especially because they notice the political and military authorities an accessLaeration and a hardening of competition e dispute in youwe fields. Created in July 2021, Viginum, the state’s technical and operational service aims to combat foreign digital interference. “We are already in a landscape where we arm ourselves to be able to react. In fact, we are adapting our organization to be more proactive. Influence is radiation. Radiation is not offensive. However, we are developing a proactive dimension of our strategic influence function “we explain to the Elysée.
Thus, more and more democracies, including France – we have seen this especially in Africa where the armed forces were present – are challenged and weakened in battles for the flu. This strategy is used by completely uninhibited powers in this area. This is obviously the case of Russia and China, cited in the NSR, but also of the United States (manipulation of information to launch a new war in Iraq in 2003, extraterritorial laws in particular). Foreign interference can manifest itself in several ways: violation of the law, blackmail on raw materials, manipulation of information … The RNS recommends relying ” on regulatory power of the European Union, which must be exploited as a leverinfluence in a more competitive environment, in order to protect against hybrid threats and other forms of foreign interference “.
Otherwise, ” Loperations Russian and Chinese forces in this area seek to weaken our political systems and our national cohesion, while fueling or even creating alignment effects against us, as evidenced by the war in Ukraine ”., note the authors of the RNS. And to clarify in the case of China that “The political nature of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army, ed.) and civil-military integration deployed in the technological, economic and also informational fields allows an unprecedented range of hybrid actions ”.
France under attack in Africa
Clearly, France has suffered numerous intelligence attacks in Africa, particularly in Mali and Burkina Faso. The French army took some time to take sides to counter them. Today he is much better armed. Thus, in the the Gossi affair, which has now become a textbook case: Wagner’s mercenaries wanted to accuse French soldiers of mass graves near a field that France had returned to Mali. “We were able to expose this manipulation of information extremely quickly. So we were organized to do it “we remind the Elysée.
Emmanuel Macron wants this situation to be taken into consideration wherever it is necessary to deploy armies. ” The traditional forms on which this function (conflict prevention in the areas where France is deployed, ed) has been declined, with the presence of our forces abroad, sometimes experienced as challenges to sovereignty by some or used by enemy powers in the field of combat informedfunctional, we must radically reinvent them in space and time “, the Head of State explained clearly. The army will have to do it “Profoundly changing the method”, He insisted. It is up to France to be innovative and Sioux.