| The Courier - N°158 - July - August 1996 Dossier Communication and the media - Country report Cape Verde |
Jean Monnet - 1888-1979
by Eric Roussel. Published by Fayard, Paris. 1996. 1004 pages. FFR 198.
Jean Monnet was almost 91 years old when he died and, despite the fact that he had no higher education qualifications and at times did not hold any official post, his public role was legendary. From the very first page of his book, Eric Roussel stresses the fact that, from the moment Jean Monnet met the Prime Minister, Rene Viviani, in September 1914 until 9 May 1975, the day the Action Committee for a United States of Europe was dissolved, he worked constantly for the European cause.
He applied the same tireless enthusiasm to all his duties, in whatever sphere of activity he was involved - and these were many and varied. Despite his provincial origins, Jean Monnet was, among other things, a cognac merchant, an advocate of the Allied coordination effort during the First World War, Deputy Secretary General of the League of Nations (for a short time), a banker in America and China during the 1930s and in charge of the Victory Program in the USA in 1941. From 1947 to 1952, he was the first Commissioner-General of the Economic Plan in France. He and Robert Schuman were the architects of the famous Declaration of 9 May 1950 which was to form the basis of European construction. He went on to become the first President of the ECSC's High Authority and, until 1975, he was the driving force behind the Action Committee for a United States of Europe. And that is just to highlight his renowned roles.
In addition, Jean Monnet was both a visionary and a pragmatist, who was to become adviser to some of the greatest names of his day. General de Gaulle, another great visionary, albeit with a very different ideology, called him 'the inspiration' behind European integration, although such an accolade was not completely devoid of irony given that the two men could hardly be said to see eye to eye.
Jean Monnet was a purveyor of new ideas, but also an eternal realist who never failed to recognise the importance of the status quo. Indeed, he could have stepped right out of the pages of a Paul Morand novel. And yet, despite the fact that he was held in the highest esteem by world political heavyweights (Clemenceau, Roosevelt, Churchill, Adenauer, de Gasperi, Brandt, Pompidou, John Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, Heath and Giscard d'Estaing, to name but a few), in his private life he was a simple man, of modest disposition - in fact a bourgeois in the best sense of the word.
A 'workaholic', like many great men, Jean Monnet defied categorization. He has recently been described as 'a man of fringe ideologies who was nevertheless always at the centre of things'. During the latter part of his life, he settled comfortably into his role as 'rather' of Europe. His fundamental thoughts on that topic could be summed up in one line from the Declaration of 9 May 1950, (now a public holiday in the European institutions). 'Europe will not be built in a day, nor as a single structure, but will come about through concrete actions which, first and foremost, create a de facto solidarity'.
For Monnet, nationalism meant only war and, from 1942 onwards, he set his sights on preparing for the future, surrounding himself with a team of extraordinary talent - people such as Etienne Hirsch, Herve Alphand, Rene Mayer and Robert Marjolin. These men strove to find ways to avoid war between the countries of Western Europe, to define the objectives of European unification and to establish European institutions which would be equal to such a task.
Eric Roussel is a journalist with an arts degree and a doctorate in law, and this is an outstanding work on the 'pragmatic visionary' that was Jean
Monnet. The book is comprehensive, extremely well-written and impressively documented. Most notably, the author had access, for the first time, to the famous journal kept by Jean Monnet in which he recorded his countlles conversations with the key players and set out his own thoughts. Today, his dream of 'a united Europe complemented by a partnership with the United States' is still one of the big issues. And as the arguments rage, we should perhaps recall some other famous words from Jean Monnet's Memoires: 'We do not seek to form a coalition of States, we seek to unite men .
Le Choix de l'Europe
(Opting for Europe) by Laurent Cohen-Tanugi. Pub/ished by Fayard, Paris. 225 pages. FFR 110 - BFR 748.
'Laurent Cohen-Tanugi successfully reminds us of the modernity of the European project; that there are aspects of it that are essential to our independence and our prosperity, to preserving our model of society and maintaining our influence on the international stage. By urging Europeans and European leaders to look to the future so as to be better able to manage the risks and seize the opportunities that it offers and, ultimately, to be in a better position to change things, he brings us all hope'.
This was how Jacques Delors described this book, and, basically, there you have it in a nutshell. It would, however, be worthwhile adding that 'opting for Europe' is not quite as simple as it sounds - a fact which has not escaped the attention of the author, who is a graduate of France's elite Ecole normale superieure and of the Harvard Law School. He is also a barrister and member of a renowned firm of international lawyers.
Since the Treaty of Rome, European progress has very often come about because Member States have set themselves deadlines for achieving particular objectives. 1996 sees the opening of the Intergovernmental Conference, an event of major importance, which is expected to continue at least until the spring of 1997 (with parliamentary elections planned in several Member States in 1997 and 1998). Among the items on the agenda for the IGC is the need to adapt the European institutions - which in essence have hardly changed since 1958 - and to open up the way for the third phase of Economic and Monetary Union in 1999 for those States which have fulfilled the economic convergence criteria set out in the Maastricht Treaty.
However, besides the technical and financial problems involved, there are also differences between certain Member States about the political future of Europe. The author rightly stresses, in this respect, that the situation has become even more complex since the demise of the Soviet Union. In particular, some politicians support an expansion of the EU towards Central and Eastern Europe, so as to avoid strengthening European integration. The author believes that, broadly speaking, there are two distinct positions. On the one hand, there is the United Kingdom, which would be happy with a large free trade area guided by a 'Secretariat-Commission'and with flexible and relatively loose inter-State cooperation structures at a political level. On the other hand, there is Germany, which wants expansion of the Union towards the East as well, but also wants a swift and concrete consolidation of a common monetary and political 'hard core'.
In his book, the author expresses his view that France will play a vital role in maintaining and advancing the essential elements that form the basis of the European enterprise. And he nails his own colours firmly to the mast as someone who hopes to see the continent moving towards some form of federal structure. As one observer commenting on the work has noted, 'This little Bible, brimming with faith in the concept of a unified Europe, will be invaluable - even to the doubting Thomases among us'.
Et.... qu'en pensent les villageois? Projets de developpement durable et be veins de base bénéficiaires
(But... what do the villagers think about it ? Sustainable development projects and basic needs of aid recipients) by Myriam Bacquelaine. Published by Ured (Research, Education and Development Unit) of the K.U. Brussels (17, avenue de la Liberte, B- 1080 Brussels). 1995. 3Z2 pages.
Les problemes du monde rural vus par les habitants - Portraits de villages de Haute-Guinee
(me problems of rural life as seen by the inhabitants - Profiles of villages in Upper Guinea) by Myriam Bacquelaine. Published by Ured (Research, Education and Development Unit) of the KU. Brussels (17, avenue de la Liberte, B- 1080 Brussels). 1995. 222 pages.
The author, who has a PhD in educational sciences and is a researcher at Ured, has written these two works on the basis of a study she carried out on behalf of the European Commission in Guinea (Conakr,v). This aimed at identifying the most urgent priorities of village communities within the context of an environment restoration project.
The conclusion of the first book underlines research results which point to the adoption of a different approach to development at local level: one which respects the wishes of the recipients and which finally breaks free from western ethnocentrism.
In the second volume, the author presents the results of the survey conducted in the villages of Upper Guinea. Six villages with varying characteristics in terms of size, geographical location and administrative status are featured in more detail.
Informations pour le Developpement: Agriculture
(Information on development: Agriculture)
Published by Ibiscus (ibis, rue du Havre, F-75008 Paris) and by the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation. 1995. 271 pages. FFR 150.
More than just an index, this publication is a useful working tool for anyone seeking reliable information about development in the agricultural sector. It includes a list of the main organisations specialising in agriculture in 40 French-speaking countries and a list of the principal places and means from which to obtain information (documentation centres, data banks, optical discs, CDs and on-line data services). There is also a selection of periodicals, a bibliographic section (with more than 300 references, including abstracts) and contributions by specialists relating to major topics connected with rural development: landownership systems, links between cash crops and food crops, agricultural funding, etc.
Rwanda - Trois jour qui ont fait basculer l'histoire
(Rwanda - Three days that shook history) by Filip Reyntjens. Published by L'Harmattan (5-7, rue de l'Ecole-Polytechnique, F75005 Paris). Cahiers africains no. /6! 1995. 148 pages FFR 9O. ISBN 2-738437044.
Although much has been written about the tragic events in Rwanda, this work examines an aspect of the story which is still largely a mystery: the brief period which began on 6 April with the missile attack on the presidential jet and ended on 9 April, when the 'caretaker government' was swam into office. According to the author, these 72 hours were of critical importance since it was during this time that the country's killing machine was set in motion.
Essentially based on eye-witnffs accounts, it is a tale which is far from complete. The book, however, does provide some hitherto undocumented information which allow us to delve deeper in search of the truth behind one of the darkest pages of recent human history.
Les refugies rwandais a Bukavu au Zaire - De nouveaux Palestiniens?
(The Rwandan refugees in Bukavu, Zaire - the new Palestinians ?) by Philippe de Dorlodot Published by L'Harmattan (5-7, rue de l'Ecole-Polytechnique, F-75005 Paris) and by the Jeremie Group. 1995. 253 pages. FM 150. ISBN 2-7384-3698-6.
The author has brought together various stories, appeals, communiques, analyses and thoughts to write this book about the crisis facing the Rwandan refugees. The accounts cover the period from April 1994 to October 1995 and relate to the situation in South Kivu, Zaire, where an already volatile position has been greatly exacerbated by the arrival of the refugees. The people living in the regional centres of Goma and Bukavu are having to live with the tragedy of gross overcrowding and all its consequences - environmental deterioration, price increases, general insecurity and the threat of war on the border between Rwanda and Burundi.
Zaire now wants the refugees to leave as quickly as possible, but their return to Rwanda is still problematic. Rejected at every turn, are these Rwandan refugees set to become the new Palestinians? In the postscript to the work, Filip Reyntjens (the author of the book reviewed previously) states that 'These new refugees will not accept eternal exile. H voluntary repatriation is not possible, and if forced repatriation is unacceptable, the only way left open to them may be armed repatriation... The civil society of South Kivu... is well aware of this, and the international community would do well to listen to their cries of alarm... If it does not, the tragic events of the past year will have been merely a prelude, with the worst still to come'.
La tragedie rwandaise - Historique et Perspectives
(The Rwandan tragedy - historical background and future prospects) by Emmanuel Nkunzumwami. Published by L'Harmaffan (5-7, rue de l'Ecole Polytechnique, F-75005 Paris). 1995. 480 pages. FFR 250. ISBN 2-7384-3697-8.
The author, a teiecommunications engineer and economist, was born and raised in Rwanda. He now lives in France and has had several articles about the situation in his country published. In this work, he seeks to Reconstruct the machine of central Rwandan power which first appeared in the eleventh century, seeking answers to questions such as: Who ruled the country and how? What alliances were forged and according to what criteria? What kinds of social structure existed and what forms did conflict take? He then goes on to describe the trauma of colonial rule which 'deliberately' fanned the flames of socio-ethnic conflict so that the people could be more easily controlled. From there, he takes us through the era of an 'independent' Rwanda under a dictatorial regime. Its power was progressively stripped away, initially under the pressure of internal calls for democracy, and then by the demands of Western aid donors. Finally, he recounts the events since April 1994.
Having given the historical background, the author examines the country's future prospects. He believes that the 'siege mentality' of the new government does nothing to induce the return of the 2 million refugees who shuffle back and forth across the border and who find themselves stuck between a 'rock and a hard place'. Finally, the author poses a straightforward question - but one which has yet to be answered: How can we rebuild a country that has witnessed genocide on such a scale ?