Last night there was an event at AU supported by the French-American Global Forum and Le Monde Diplomatique, discussing “NATO Today: Does Collective Security Work?” While I won’t know what was said in that room because I had to be in class (if anyone went and would like to tell me what they heard I’d be grateful), I did go down during break and picked up a couple of the free samples of the English edition of Le Monde Diplomatique. The first article that grabbed my attention was titled “Against censorship, in any media,” written by Serge Halimi (online available at: http://mondediplo.com/2014/02/01censorship). It basically criticized the recent censorship measures of interior minister Manuel Valls, placing it in the international context (starting off with freedom-destroying measures taken immediately after 9/11 and still in place “thirteen years and one president later), and in historical context: referring back to a 1980 decree by Charles X revoking press freedom. A decree which newspapers found ways to ignore, Halimi then adds that Charles X’s reign ended in revolution.
Of course this is public diplomacy, and it made me think of ways to attain soft power, and relates to our group’s underlying theme about freedom of speech and promoting tolerance and respect for different cultures and beliefs. The soft power aspect of it is the most important though: as I understand it, it is mostly about international reputation, and as we’ve seen before with Nicholas Cull, actions speak louder than words. So if France wants to maintain an image of the country of freedom of rights etc. reactions like Manuel Valls’ and such publicity around it are rather unhelpful. The strategy of self-criticizing internal policy in a publication such as Le Monde Diplomatique rather than trying to find a convoluted justification behind it seems like marginalizing a politician to cut losses, but how effective can that be and how wide is the actual readership of the English Edition of Le Monde Diplomatique? A rather inefficient band-aid?