In Chicago, French president plans to keep promise, upsetting NATO partners

France's new president makes waves as Belgians protest NATO's monopoly on power

John Dyer By John Dyer

French President Francois Hollande arrives at the NATO Summit in Chicago on May 20, 2012. (Reuters/Jason Reed)

Americans  peruse the newspapers on Sunday afternoon with an eye to the week ahead. We do the same here at Latitude News, except we read the foreign newspapers to see what they are saying about the United States.

NATO’s summit in Chicago grabbed headlines in Europe’s media, with much attention paid to new French President François Hollande’s intention to follow through on his campaign promise to pull a large share of France’s 3,300 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, two years before NATO’s scheduled pullout. The move had been portrayed as a slight against President Barack Obama, who wants NATO members to follow the schedule he’s set for the alliance.

France 24 explains that Hollande’s “decision is not expected to go down well with the other leaders of the 28 member states when he comes face-to-face with them over the next two days.”

Germany’s Deutsche Welle explained why some NATO allies aren’t so pleased with Hollande’s position:

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was less diplomatic, warning against “a withdrawal competition motivated by domestic politics” within the alliance that could well exacerbate the terrorist threat in Afghanistan.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel added to the criticism, saying that “we went to Afghanistan together and we want to leave together.”
“All those involved should be prudent enough to stick to what was agreed,” she insisted.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, Belgium — home to NATO headquarters — demonstrators took to the streets to register their dislike of the entire NATO project, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported:

“Thus the participants condemned militant policy of NATO and the fact that only 28 of the Western countries will determine the world’s geo-strategic policy,” Mario Franssen, a spokesperson for Intal group that organized the flashmob said.

Jamaica’s new boat people

The other story that caught our attention is far, far from geopolitical intrigue. The Gleaner of Jamaica published an investigative piece about fishermen smuggling Jamaican criminals, including gang leaders, to the U.S. For a fee of about $5,000, the fishermen can shuttle almost anyone to Miami, the paper reported:

“We are aware that a senior member of the notorious One Order Gang which operates out of Spanish Town, St Catherine, is now in Miami through that route,” one police source told The Sunday Gleaner.

The paper also quotes an unnamed source who laid out the smuggling ring, though in patois:

“You see da bredda deh? A no any and anybody him carry … no matter how much money you a give him,” the man said, making reference to “a white boy” who took him to Miami aboard his yacht.
The informant said initially the man refused to take him, but relented after talking with his cronies.
“From me reach pan (the yacht) me just go downstairs go lay dung till it reach a Miami and me friend dem come get me,” he disclosed.

American authorities reportedly didn’t respond to the story. The Gleaner might have to send them a translation first.