What is happening in New Caledonia is not just a local tragedy. Nor is it the sign of a failure to manage a perfectly predictable crisis. It should also be an opportunity to become aware – with much delay for some – of a large number of threats that weigh on France as a whole and that call for radical solutions, well beyond the issues of security and living together in this particular territory.

What is happening there is in fact a weak signal, in other words, the harbinger of a much larger event, of which this episode is only the precursor. More precisely, the New Caledonian crisis is, for the nation as a whole, the weak signal of at least five potential crises, all of them existential in nature:

  • An attack on the French presence outside Europe:
    France is the last Western country to have a territorial presence on all five continents (with Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the West Indies and Cayenne in the Americas; Réunion and Mayotte in Africa; Polynesia and New Caledonia in Australasia; France is particularly present in the Pacific, where much of the world’s future will be played out). As a result, France has the world’s second-largest exclusive economic maritime zone, covering 10.2 million km², 97% of which is overseas and 15% in New Caledonia. This presence is essential to the country’s influence, to the location of its forces, to its network of alliances, to its access to a diversity of natural resources and cultures. And, ultimately, to its standard of living. And here we are trying to drive it out.
  • An attack on French strategic reserves of global importance:
    In New Caledonia, France holds a large proportion of the world’s known nickel reserves, as well as significant deposits of chromium, cobalt, iron, gold, copper and manganese. These minerals, some of which have been mined for over a century, are essential to the development of renewable energies and, in particular, power systems. They are highly coveted by neighboring countries, in particular China, which has invested heavily in Indonesia since 2021, producing almost half the world’s nickel and controlling the entire value chain, putting New Caledonian operators on the verge of bankruptcy, in order to claim a virtual monopoly and drive up prices. Here again, the standard of living of the French could be jeopardized if France loses control.
  • An attempt to weaken France’s diplomatic position:
    Like Azerbaijan (which is endeavouring to aggravate tensions between communities in New Caledonia, in order to harm a French government that has taken sides against it in its dispute with its Armenian neighbor), other countries may find it judicious to provoke or aggravate conflicts on a part of French territory where the French presence is strategically vital, with the aim of weakening French diplomatic action that would be contrary to the interests of this aggressor. We can see it in a thousand places.
  • A challenge to the equality of citizens:
    In theory, on French territory, every citizen has the same rights, wherever he or she may be; in particular, the same voting rights. And yet, it has been accepted that this is not the case in New Caledonia. This is a very serious matter: at a time when, throughout the world, demands for local identity are intensifying, when “every man for himself” is becoming the rule, if this is allowed to take hold, there is a real danger that certain movements or parties will come to demand that the same rules apply to other parts of the national territory. Imagine if only those citizens living since 1990 in Corsica or the Côte-d’Or (which was the heart of Burgundy, a great independent nation before it became part of France) or Seine-Saint-Denis, or Martinique, could vote in municipal, departmental or regional elections? That would be the end of national unity. This cannot be allowed to continue, otherwise we run the risk of seeing this principle replicated.
  • A weakening of Europe:
    Ultimately, it is in the name of Europe that France is present on these various continents, maintaining an economic, cultural and military presence. Weakening its weight in New Caledonia means weakening France’s weight in Europe and Europe’s weight in the world. Australia also seems to have understood that this is not in its interest, and, for the first time in a New Caledonian crisis, is not taking sides with the independentists. And we must consciously assume that any tactical concessions made locally (in the name of a broad, and in my opinion erroneous, conception of decolonization) may have major and irreversible strategic repercussions in the future.