One Taliban fighter is clad in the bulletproof vest of a dead French soldier. Another proudly shows off a French walkie-talkie. Yet another wears a camouflaged French Army helmet.
A glossy six-page photo spread published in Paris Match and featuring a group of insurgents who say they killed 10 French soldiers in Afghanistan on Aug. 18 has reinforced uneasiness about France’s military presence there.
The spread reflected the Taliban’s media strategy of undercutting support for the war in Europe and raised concern about journalists’ giving insurgents a platform. Above all, it fed a broader debate about a war that is seen as increasingly protracted and deadly – and that is unpopular in several European NATO countries with troops on the ground in Afghanistan…
The 10 deaths were France’s worst military loss in 25 years. Since the ambush President Nicolas Sarkozy has repeatedly ruled out withdrawal of French troops…
But at home in France his words were drowned out by the emotional reaction of family members of the dead soldiers to the magazine report.
Chantal Buil, the mother of a dead soldier, wrote a letter to Sarkozy, pleading with him to withdraw from Afghanistan.
“Stop following the example of President Bush,” the letter read, according to the magazine le Nouvel Observateur. “Let’s stay French. Let’s get our soldiers out of the quagmire.”
Is self-censorship still anything more or less than censorship? I believe that political decisions should be part of pretty much every aspect of life – given how connected this world and life have become.