8:10 am, April 1, 2022
The head of French military intelligence, General Eric Vidoud, was sacked just seven months after taking office. According to military sources close to the case in Agence France-Presse, he was criticized especially for the poor analysis of Russian intentions towards Ukraine, before the invasion of the country on February 24. Alexandre Papaimanuel, intelligence expert, teacher at Science Po and author of the book spies in the Élysée, Deschver’s JDD reasons for this departure and military intelligence strategies, particularly American.
What are the reasons for thanking the intelligence chief?
The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces considered that the information of military importance provided to him by the Military Intelligence Directorate should have been more accurate and not support decision-making. It is rare, after all, that these decisions are made outside the quiet corridors of various ministries or governing bodies. We in France are not used to this kind of public statement. Here, a signal is sent to the national intelligence community, partner nations and allies. The intelligence sector operates intermittently in sudden crises. It is also a delicate business, a balancing act, because it is rare to talk about the successes of an intelligence service, when its failures are made public.
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After this event, we heard a lot that the United States did better. how ?
I don’t think the Americans have done better. I think they use intelligence to shape the field of perceptions. They make him say things to destabilize the opponent or create alliances. And especially today, in this struggle which is a struggle of perception, the images testify to it abundantly. But they also experienced crises.
It is complicated to assess broker bankruptcies, but it is necessary to look at them in order to be able to develop
Why was the US intelligence devalued before this episode?
It has experienced bankruptcies, particularly during the second Iraq War and weapons of mass destruction. France, in particular, because of its autonomous ability to make decisions, decided not to take sides with American intelligence on the idea of weapons of mass destruction to be manufactured in Iraq. This rejection came as a shock to US intelligence. Recently, he has been criticized for his view on the return of the Taliban to Afghanistan. And I think they were sometimes a little shocked. The war on terror is necessarily a distorted perspective that prevents us from seeing other dynamics and can leave blind spots. It is complicated to assess broker bankruptcies, but it is necessary to look at them to be able to evolve.
The United State He published various information related to Russia, prior to the invasion in Ukraine, to put pressure on Vladimir Putin. Does this indicate the return of intelligence as a tool for political communication?
Intelligence exists to feed the people on the ground, to understand the maneuvers of the enemy at an operational level and to decide, that is, to allow a president or government to independently understand the situation, without relying on information from allied countries, and make decisions accordingly. When military intelligence informed Jacques Chirac at the time that there were no weapons of mass destruction, this enabled him to decide not to pursue the coalition and to say that he did not agree with the assessment of the situation. Here, the Americans believed from the outset that there was a Russian temptation to cross the border and assert the existence of the conflict. This creates a context in which they are leaders in how the topic and conversations are directed. In addition, history has proven them right.
In these crises they can reinvent themselves
How does France position itself in the strategy of using intelligence as a tool for political communication?
She’s already doing communication, saying, “RMaybe we weren’t ready, maybe we misjudged, so we make decisions “.France knows very well what it is saying, especially as it is an important country in the field of intelligence. At the moment, DRM is specifically defined, but in general it is the entire intelligence community that has a real challenge to coordinate and think how to think. In these crises they can reinvent themselves. The analysis of the effect of intelligence is very complex. But what I can say in general, as a bystander, is that today intelligence has become a public policy while before it was very secretive and reserved for a few amateurs. It has become an instrument of communication and study And it got out of the confines of the secretive state to become something to be manipulated and exploited.