In response to Thursday’s terror attack in Nice, France has extended its State of Emergency as leaders around the world tighten their security. In the US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stated the need to launch an intelligence surge: “We still do not have enough intelligence co-operation between our agencies and those in other countries, including in Europe, and we need to have a focal point.” The same goes for the European Union, where collaboration between agencies remains insufficient. While surveillance has been drastically heightened in France and beyond, it seems as though intelligence agencies cannot cope with the sheer volume of data. Warning signs and potential suspects have managed to slip through the cracks. Sharing intelligence among nations has rarely been more crucial, particularly when it comes to halting future under-the-radar-attacks such as this one.
There are no winners when abomination comes to town but there are glimpses of how speed, imagination and worldliness can set you apart from the pack. This has been the case with the exemplary coverage of the Nice attack by BFMTV, a French rolling-news TV channel that was launched by a start-up radio station in Paris in 2005. On screen much of the coverage has been anchored in the studio with a discussion desk of revolving experts and advisers; cutaways are common, throwing to as many live feeds from France and the rest of the world as are necessary to describe a changing and challenging story. The channel gets 10 million viewers a day – the Élysée Palace included – and enjoys a market share that often beats its international, English-language rivals. BFMTV is often described as an “upstart” but in fact it’s a leader: a nimble service staffed by informed reporters and enabled by the relative cheapness and smallness of new broadcast technology. At its best BFMTV returns to its roots: as radio on the television. Just because you deal in moving pictures it doesn’t mean you lose your editorial instinct, analysis or poise. A smart broadcaster that earns our respect in inglorious times.
Hours before the attack in Nice on Thursday night, which killed more than 80 people and injured scores more, French president François Hollande was interviewed on TV. Asked what advice he would give to any potential successor, Hollande said: “I would tell him that to be president is to face death, tragedy, dramas….” If you’re not prepared, he went on, “you think that life is so simple that all you have to do is be elected and everything will be alright”. Hollande has had to face more death, tragedy and drama than most modern-day French presidents but he still does not give the appearance of being prepared. Terrorism and the intertwining issue of integration will be at the forefront of next year’s presidential election. The politician able to deal with a nation’s fears most adeptly will be favourite – and right now, that does not appear to be Hollande.
The Côte d’Azur is one of the most picturesque spots in France and a place to which millions of tourists a year come to soak up the sun. Yet it was here, on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, where tragedy struck. The terror attack has significant implications for France’s security and political future, as well as immediate consequences for financial markets. Travel firms and airlines were already suffering on Friday morning, with losses across the board: French firm Accor SA, which operates hotel brands such as Fairmont and Ibis, was among those hit, falling about 3 per cent; and airlines such as Air France, EasyJet and Ryanair were also down. There is reason for hope, however. Though markets suffered similar dips in the wake of the attacks at the Bataclan last November, it was a knee-jerk reaction to the tragedy and its aftermath – and it wasn’t long before people returned to the French capital.
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