It was a sort of farewell to the army. During a brief visit to the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle last December, French President François Hollande honored the French soldiers involved in “Operation Chammal” against the Islamic State. After two years and 238 deaths at the hands of Islamic terrorism, what did France do to defeat radical Islam? Almost nothing.

It is this legacy of indifference that is at stake in the looming French presidential elections. If Marine Le Pen or François Fillon win, it means that France has rejected this autocratic legacy and wants to try a different, braver way. If Emmanuel Macron wins, France as we have known it can be considered pretty much over. Macron is, for example, against taking away French nationality from jihadists. Terrorism, Islam and security are almost absent from Macron’s vocabulary and platform, and he is in favor of lowering France’s state of emergency. By blaming “colonialism” for French troubles in the Arab world, and calling it “a crime against humanity“, he has effectively legitimized Muslim extremist violence against the French Republic.

As General Vincent Desportes wrote in his new book, La dernière Bataille de France (“The Last Battle of France”):

“President Hollande said on November 15 that it would be ruthless, we were at war … but we do not make war! History shows that in the eternal struggle between the shield and the sword, the sword is still a step forward and winning”.

In the past two years, France only used the shield.

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