For many, the dispute which opposed President Macron to General Pierre De Villiers, Chief of the Defense Staff, could be reduced to a question of figures, which would after all be normal when it comes to a president from the Finance Inspectorate . But such an approach would be very reductive.
Question of figures: Macron had promised in his electoral program to raise the defense budget to 2% of GDP. A promise that Marine le Pen and François Fillon had also made. How could Emmanuel Macron, an unconditional follower of NATO, have proposed anything other than the minimum that this organization has set and which was recently recalled by President Trump. But 2% is a lot, about 44 billion; to a current budget of 32 billion, it would therefore be necessary to add 12.
Read also: Resignation of Pierre De Villiers: the army must be loyal to the people, not to Emmanuel Macron
Another figure, the deficit authorized by the European Union: 3% of the same GDP, or 66 billion which is already a tolerance, accompanied by the French promise to reduce it to zero, never respected by the Hollande government (of which Macron was the minister finances). It is not in fact by accumulating deficits (and therefore with an additional debt of 3% per year) that we will reduce a debt which today reaches 100% of GDP. The fact remains that Emmanuel Macron, who wanted to enter the European scene with fanfare, and for whom the instructions of Brussels, like the wishes of Berlin, are the Law and the prophets, wants at all costs, to ensure his credibility, to come down at this level. It lacks for that 8 billion. The habit of Bercy in this case is to puncture the sovereign ministries, starting with Defense to which, instead of granting 12 billion, we ask 850 million while freezing 2,7 billion.
This logic alone does not explain why the dissatisfaction of the armed forces, precisely expressed by their Chief of Staff in the Defense Committee, has become a matter of State.
Beyond the figures, the clash of cultures
We are surprised at the degree of contempt that President Macron is the subject of on the web in many texts, anonymous or not, from the military community. Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, whom the military did not like very much, never experienced such hostility. And especially not less than three months after taking office.
We can make allowance for the clumsiness of the new president, his lack of military sensitivity: even if he boasts here and there in the midst of the troops, he is the first president not to have done military service. Generation XY!
However, we must go deeper. The personality of Emmanuel Macron puts off many people, especially in the armies. He carries with him an air of levity that is not really the kind of house. Since the Roman Republic and probably before, the military leader, confronted every day with death, the ultimate reality, is a serious man. It's this gravitas, a sign of accomplished maturity, which the military expect from the Head of State who is also the Chief of the Armed Forces. The least we can say is that the new president has progress to make in this area. Many in the general public were, for example, shocked by his visit to Oradour-sur-Glane where he multiplied Chirac-like handshakes on all sides, seeming to confuse this place of tragic memory with an agricultural show.
No doubt his private life belongs to him alone. But to exercise authority, one must give the feeling of an accomplished personality. Yet Jacques Lacan taught us that it is the resolution of the Oedipus complex which painfully opens the subject to the real world. We will not say that Emmanuel Macron has not solved it. But in politics, only appearances count.
Military versus ideologues
There is more: on almost all subjects, Emmanuel Macron has campaigned on the ideological markers which, for 15 years, have defined what is politically correct: Europe, free trade, overtaking the nation (France being accused by him of “crime”), contempt for cultural and ethnic considerations through openness to immigration, anti-racism, non-discrimination, hyper-ecology, gender theory, vaccines at all costs, etc. On no subject Macron has taken the slightest distance from the dominant doxa. He was also careful not to disavow those which ravage sectors such as National Education (global method1) or justice (apology culture). Not because his voters liked it, quite the contrary. But because it appealed to those essential prescribers that are the media people, largely subservient to ideology.
Almost all ministries today have their own, which generally arouses the ire of populations who are not always aware of what is happening to them: the Interior wants to eliminate 30 small towns at all costs, the equipment wants to prohibit any construction outside the perimeters already built, whatever the local traditions, Health wants to make liberal medicine functional, etc. The Ministry of Defense is not entirely free from such ideologies (which are generally not much more than simplistic ideas never questioned), but only in an organizational way, where civilians have a say: thus the defense bases, responding to the culture of grouping2, have made more mess than they have saved. But on the whole the Ministry of Defense remains relatively protected from ideology. The reason: the multiple operational commitments in which our armies are involved allow constant feedback, which is not the case in most civil administrations. "When the cannon thunders, the idiots are silent", goes an old military saying. The ideologues too, the ideology having the character of making people lose the sense of reality, eminently necessary in combat.
It seems that the ideology and the oedipal deficit go together. It is immaturity that explains the success of ideologies, particularly in an intellectual or media class more sheltered than the people from direct contact with reality, which is sometimes so harsh. On this chapter, Emmanuel Macron is indeed a child of the century.
Source: © Macron-Defense: the Villiers affair is not just a question of figures | talker