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France's Wars in Chad
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Book description

Examining the continuous French military interventions in Chad in the two decades after its independence, this study demonstrates how France's successful counterinsurgency efforts to protect the regime of François Tombalbaye would ultimately weaken the Chadian state and encourage Libya's Muammar Gaddafi to intervene. In covering the subsequent French efforts to counter Libyan ambitions and the rise to power of Hissène Habré, one of postcolonial Africa's most brutal dictators, Nathaniel K. Powell demonstrates that French strategies aiming to prevent the collapse of authoritarian regimes had the opposite effect, exacerbating violent conflicts and foreign interventions in Chad and further afield. Based on extensive archival research to trace the causes, course, and impact of French interventions in Chad, this study offers insights and lessons for current interveners - including France - fighting a 'war on terrorism' in the Sahel whose strategies and impact parallel those of France in the 1960s–1980s.


‘This important book shows that the Franco-Chadian relationship was central to France’s post-colonial role in Africa by detailing French involvement in Chad from political independence in 1960 until Hissène Habré’s seizure of power in 1982. French interventions in Chad in the 60s and 70s carry important lessons for current French military operations in the Sahel and indeed for foreign interveners more generally: external interventions in the name of stabilisation can lead to long-term instability; they may freeze, rather than help to resolve conflicts … This is important for historians seeking to understand the nature of Franco-African relations in the post-colonial period, but should also be essential reading for anyone, including policymakers and analysts, with an interest in foreign military interventions.’

Tony Chafer - University of Portsmouth

‘A superbly informed and riveting account of the first two military interventions of France in Chad. A must-read for any scholar of France or Central Africa, and for anyone wanting to interrogate the roots of France’s politics in the region.’

Marielle Debos - University Paris, Nanterre

‘Covering thirty years of internal conflict in post-colonial Chad, this is an absorbing study of the relationship between the country’s acute inequalities and its patronage-based style of government on the one hand, and the nature and persistence of localized rebellion on the other … The author’s insight is to approach conflict in Chad as, at once, a byproduct of the country’s partial decolonization and a logical consequence of the socio-political marginalization of entire communities that was intrinsic to the political dispensation established at independence.’

Martin Thomas - University of Exeter

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