French to Impose Curfews, Deploy Forces

It turns out to be a good thing that France didn’t send troops to Baghdad: They’re needed in Paris.

French to Impose Curfews, Deploy Forces (AP)

France will impose curfews “wherever it is necessary” and call up 1,500 police reservists to stop rioting, the prime minister said Monday, as civil unrest erupted for a 12th night with youths setting fire to an empty bus and attacking police in Toulouse. The announcement came as similar violence was reported in neighboring Belgium and Germany and the French government faced growing criticism for its inability to stop the violence in its tough suburbs. Governments worldwide urged their citizens to be careful in France.


Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said 1,500 police and gendarme reservists were being called up to reinforce the 8,000 troops already deployed to stem the violence that has shocked the nation. “The response is one of firmness,” he said on TF1 television, adding that curfews will be allowed “wherever it is necessary.” Local government officials will be able to put curfews in place “if they think it will be useful to permit a return to calm and ensure the protection of residents. That is our number one responsibility,” he said.


President Jacques Chirac, in private comments more conciliatory than his warnings Sunday that rioters would be caught and punished, acknowledged that France has failed to integrate the French-born children of Arab and black African immigrants in poor suburbs who have been participating in the violence, according to Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, who met with the French leader on Monday. She said Chirac “deplored the fact that in these neighborhoods there is a ghettoization of youths of African or North African origin” and recognized “the incapacity of French society to fully accept them.”

These statements aren’t necessarily in conflict. It may well be that France needs both more law-and-order and more compassion to deal with this situation. Still, it is quite difficult to express the latter sentiment without appearing to both undermine the former and, more importantly, giving the impression that one is rewarding criminal anarchy by giving in to its demands.

I say that as observation rather than criticism. Whatever culpability the French leadership has in having allowed this situation to fester in the first place, there are no easy answers at this stage.

Ironically, they are faced with a situation analogous in some ways to the counterinsurgency we’re fighting in Iraq. Putting down violence requires violence which, in turn, engenders violence. It’s a nasty cycle from which escape is incredibly difficult.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ken says:

    Ironically, they are faced with a situation analogous in some ways to the counterinsurgency we’re fighting in Iraq.

    In your dreams James.

    The situation is instead almost exactly analogous to the race riots we have had here in the US. Whenever racism and oppression are given semi-official sanction in a society based upon the enlightenment ideals of “fraternity, liberty, and equality” problems will arise. The oppressed minority knows it is being unjustly treated and that justice calls for action to be taken to redress their legitimate greviances.

    We had the same problems here. The Watts riots lasted for a week or so and dozens of people were killed. The national guard eventually restored order. Then we set out to solve our problems with an aggressive program of civil rights legislation and enforcement.

    France needs to do the same. First restore order, next ensure civil rights to all and prove that they mean it with meaningfull actions to fully integrate their minorities into French society.

  2. McGehee says:

    Kind of ironic, isn’t it, that now there are places in Paris that are more dangerous than parts of Baghdad…?

  3. Herb says:

    Ken, Ken, Ken, Is there any hope for you?

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,

    And, You can lead a muslim to the promised land, but you can’t make him change to the culture of that “promised Land” if he wants everything Islamic.

    The Muslims have a responsibility like everyone does, If you provide him a home, then he in return must make an effort to learn and abide by the rules of that home.

  4. ken says:

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,

    Herb, in spite of yourself you actually said something meaningful. Unoriginal, but meaningful. Way to go sport.

    Take out your crayons and write this one down: “Even a blind pig will occasionally find an acorn”.

    You can apply it to yourself if you ever get lucky again.

  5. Herb says:

    Ken, Ken, Ken. I just can’t beleive it. You finally answered a question,

    “Is there any hope for you”

    Yes Ken you did answer and now we all know the answer,

    There is NO hope for you.

    You should put your turbin on and move to your ever loving France, If they would take you, You and your freachy liberal ego driven attitute would fit in very nicely there. Now mount you camel and go, For everyones sake.

    But then again, that wouldn’t be the right place for you, they would make you serve in the French Army and that is not your style.

    Bet you don’t eat pork either.

  6. Sabrina says:

    No, Paris is not more dangerous than Bagdad.

    In fact, walking alone in the USA’s ghettos is more dangerous than walking alone in the french projects by night.

    What France really need is people to change their mind.

    Here somebody who was born in France, whose parents were born in France, who have the french nationality, but have foreign origins, is considered as french only if he’s white.

    French West Indies are a part of France since centuries and centuries, but black people who come from there or have parents or grand parents coming from there, are not considered as french.

    It’s normal to ask somebody who was born in France, have the french nationality and who has been abroa to do effort to get integrate in the society. The problem is not them, it’s us (I mean the french).