In the second round of the election, we will vote for Macron to avoid catastrophe, but his platform with regard to security and international relations needs improvement

It is without any qualms that we will vote for Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the Presidential election.

Our choice in the first round of the election was François Fillon, whose program we thought was the most developed, but the people have voted. To those who encourage a vote for Marine Le Pen, and to those who, encouraging abstention, will only favor her, we want to say that, although we understand their anger, a vote for the extreme right party is not a solution. Granted, Marine le Pen has changed a lot of things within her party and largely cut ties with her father’s ideas and rhetoric, but while FN voters are (of course) respectable, the party continues to attract and concentrate on unbearable people. An example of this is Jean-François Jalkh, an interim president that renounced his position after three days for revisionist reasons. In addition, Marine Le Pen’s European and economic program can only lead to irreversible results.

We will therefore vote for Emmanuel Macron, despite having doubts about the “neither left nor right” position he tries to promulgate. Time will tell if this “third option”, often tried but never achieved, is real and has a future.

While Mr. Macron really wants to be a symbol of change, his agenda with regard to security and international relations must be amended. On one hand, Emmanuel Macron is a good economist who focuses his discourse and energy on financial, industrial, and social questions and Europe. In these topics, which are of course of great importance, his electoral platform is adequate. On the other hand, in terms of security and international relations, he must improve. It is on these issues that we are knowledgeable and on which we will concentrate.



1)     The fight against terrorism and radicalization


We cannot deny that Emmanuel Macron’s position on the issue has honorably evolved over the course of the last months.


Early on, Mr. Macron suggested, for example, the confinement of jihadists coming back from Iraq and Syria “in closed and small centers” which would have the responsibility to “re-educate” the radicalized “to show them that another life is possible after a life of radicalization and jihadism…”[1]

Now, Mr. Macron is suggesting that jihadists returning be “arrested, tried, incarcerated in specific institutions, and submitted to strict detention with the obligation of psychological, social, and security monitoring.” He adds that “at the end of the detention period, a reinforced probation should be scheduled to track the individual’s behavior for as long as necessary.[2]

These propositions are without a doubt better, but still not sufficient.

We deem that:

  • Thousands of “Fichés S” connected to radical Islamism and considered as dangerous must be treated in a specific way which needs to be defined, which would enable their surveillance and their removal as a threat for a certain period of time. Proposals, including legislative changes (such as new criminal sentences) should be submitted within the first months of the next presidency.


  • With regard to jihadists in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere: the military apparatus must be used in a way that will reduce to  a minimum the possibility for people – who actively joined a criminal and terrorist organization and who, having been trained and been accomplices to crimes committed there, are very dangerous—to return to France or Europe. Those who succeed must be dealt with severely.


  • The institutions and movements promoting radical Islamism and hate or that encourage violence must be dissolved. Foreigners participating in these activities must be expelled and French nationals need to be tried and sentenced (in this case as well, legal changes will most likely be necessary.)


2)    Intelligence services


The role of intelligence is primordial in the fight against terrorism.

Emmanuel Macron has proposed the creation of a “permanent Task Force aimed at fighting IS and Al-Qaeda by providing, alongside intelligence agencies, the tools to combine all-source intelligence. In order to do this, it is necessary to vitalize its exploitation through strong political stimulus.”[3]

We think it is necessary to go further, and to create a National Security Council, similar to the one in the United States, which would enable the efficient coordination of intelligence and security agencies’ work and the streamlining of their priorities in terms of anti-terrorism and national security. This council, which could also coordinate security policy with foreign and defense policy, would be directly linked to the President who would advise the Council in all matters.[4] Its Secretary General could serve as National Security Adviser to the President.

The Unit for the Coordination of the Fight against Terrorism (UCLAT) could evolve to fill in this role or another structure could be created. It does not have to be overabundant but must be composed of experts from varying backgrounds, including academia and the private sector.

With regard to intelligence specifically, we are in a position to say that in France, it is of great quality. Nonetheless, it could be improved. We advise:

  • A regular exchange of personnel (through medium or long-term secondments) between different agencies involved in the collection and analysis of information.  In France, 6 specialized agencies[5]and 8 other agencies, either branches or units of other institutions[6] participate in the collection and analysis of information. Still, looking back at the terrorist attacks committed against France (or French interests abroad) since January 7, 2015, it is clear that intelligence is difficultly shared between all components of the French intelligence strata. This sharing would enable all agencies to know each other’s needs and operational methods and create confident ties between one another and their employees.


  • Exchanges and cooperation between the intelligence community and the academic and private sectors, as is done in the United States. Women and men from these sectors, while submitting themselves to the highest level of confidentiality, could bring new blood and a different thought process to tackle problems (specifically in terms of analysis and projection) and could facilitate intelligence agencies’ focus on purely operational activities.


  • The alternation between the public and private sectors by promoting “half-length careers” (20 years) in intelligence. This would enable the consolidation of the private security sector in France, a crucial international player and carrier of influence which provides an affluent source of employment. Intelligence agencies could also greatly benefit from the competence of the private sector.


3)    Defense


Within an instable and dangerous world, everything must be done for France, the main (if not only) European power to regularly conduct military operations, sometimes for a long period of time (Afghanistan historically, the Sahel and Middle-East regions today), to devote 2% of its GDP to Defense. This effort must be completed by the end of the 5-year-term, not by 2025 as Emmanuel Macron has offered.


  • While staying a stable ally within NATO, France must maintain its will to construct a European defense policy of which it will be the central player. Donald Trump’s rise to power and his disdain for Europe will surely offer an opportunity to do so.


  • Paris must not join the NATO Nuclear Planning Group (NPG). The atomic weapon, which is independent and for which France and the President have exclusive decision-making power, is an essential mean for deterrence and national independence.


  • Similarly, Paris must regain and consolidate its military and technical cooperation with Russia and promote the renewal of military ties between Moscow and NATO, which were (timidly) revived in last March after 3 years of interruption.[7]


4)   Foreign Policy


With regard to foreign policy

, France was marked in the past years by an ideology led by the defense of human rights and good deeds rather than a “Kissingerian” pragmatism which is primordial in this domain. One must not see the world as he or she wants it to be but rather as it is.

This being said, France should:

  • Renew dialogue and cooperation with Russia and finish its sanctions-based policy. Not only has it not given any expected results, it also prevented Paris from playing a political role in the solving of the Ukrainian and Middle Eastern crises. Russia is an essential player; its vital interests must be taken into consideration or else no progress will be made, as can be seen in Syria.


  • In Syria, the precondition that Bashar al-Assad needs to leave for any solution to the conflict to be successful should be removed. For peace negotiations to succeed (which we doubt they will), Bashar al-Assad and the Alawite community cannot be ignored.


  • The international community suffers from an absence of a world order which would enable the resolution of crises. Such an order would only be possible with a close cooperation between Europe, the United States, Russia and China (how would the North Korean issue be solved without Beijing?). France’s standing can and must enable it to play an important role in the construction of this new world order as long as it does not close any doors to dialogue.


Emmanuel Macron wants to be the carrier of change and says that he is open to all democratic embodiments and their proposals. This being said, we think that the few bids outlined above could catch his attention and create a strong debate.

In any case, it is with these hopes, and also to avoid the Republic’s shipwreck and mayhem that would result of it, that we will cast our ballots for him this coming Sunday.


© ESISC 2017

[4] This proposal would not replace the Defense and National Security Council (CDSN), a decision-making institution, but would create a group of experts in charge of advising the President (and the CDSN) and implementing and coordinating their decisions. Such a proposal had been considered in 2007 by Nicolas Sarkozy but later abandoned because of the Ministry of Defense’s hostility.

[5] The DGSE, DRSD, DRM (Defense), DGSI, DNRED, and TRACFIN (Economy)

[6] The Gendarmerie Nationale Counter-terrorism Bureau (BLAT)  and Operational Anticipation Division (SDAO), the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police (CDJP) Counter-terrorism Division (SDAT), the UCLAT, the Territory Central Intelligence Service (SCRT), the Paris Police headquarters’ Intelligence Bureau (DRPP); the Penitentiary Intelligence Central Bureau (BCRP), the National Cybersecurity Agency (ANSSI)

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