Studying France’s defence policy

I published two articles in the Journal of Strategic Studies on France’s defence policy. They are part of a special issue on France in the transatlantic security order I guest-edited, and which includes articles from Alice Pannier (US-UK-France relations), Stephanie Hofmann (French party politics and policies towards NATO), Olivier Chopin (intelligence reform), and Élie Tenenbaum (irregular warfare).

Below are the abstracts and the links to the two articles, available in open access thanks to the SDU library.

“The Reluctant Atlanticist: France’s Security and Defence Policy in a Transatlantic Context” (link) (pdf)

This article introduces the key tenets of French foreign and security policy during the Cold War, and illustrates the deep challenges to the French consensus raised by the emergence of a unipolar system. There is a growing gap between the rhetoric of French security policy, emphasizing ‘autonomy’ and ‘sovereignty’ out of habit from the Cold War, and the actual security practices showing a gradual embedding within the transatlantic security structures. In the absence of a new transpartisan grand narrative relevant for the contemporary international system, such embedding is easily portrayed in France as a ‘treason’ from a romanticized Gaullist foreign policy.

“French Military Adaptation in the Afghan War: Looking Inward or Outward?” (link) (pdf)

For some, a specific feature of the French armed forces’ adaptation process would be the capacity to look inward instead of outward in order to identify relevant solutions to tactical/doctrinal problems. This article questions such a narrative, and argues that the French armed forces are as quick as any to borrow from other countries’ experiences. In order to do so, this article introduces the concept of ‘selective emulation’, and compares the French and German military adaptation processes in Afghanistan. The article argues that there is indeed something distinctive about French military adaptation, but it is not what the fiercest defenders of the French ‘exceptionalism’ usually account for.

FJSS

Europeanisation or “NATO-isation”? The United Kingdom, France and Germany in Afghanistan

I just published an article (in French) in the Journal Politique Européenne on military adaptation in the Afghan War. You can access it online or in pdf. I also reproduce the abstract below.

“The decade-long military intervention in Afghanistan had a strong effect on the transformation of western armed forces. This article examines one of the pathways of such military change, namely selective emulation. Taken aback by the evolution of the fightings in Afghanistan, France, Germany and the UK looked for doctrinal or technical answers to the challenges they were facing on the ground within NATO (the structure and/or the member states). However, the importation of such solutions depends on each national political-military context, in particular the proximity with the United States, the existence of a strong local defense industry or a specific strategic culture. After the “Europeanisation without the EU” of the French defence policy in the 90’s identified by Bastien Irondelle, we now observe a “NATO-isation with NATO” of the three major European military powers’ defence policies, because of the Afghan campaign.”

POEU_048_L204

Institutionalised cooperation and policy convergence in European defence: lessons from the relations between France, Germany and the UK

My latest article, co-authored with Alice Pannier (Sciences Po/CERI) has just been published by European Security. You can access it here, or in pdf.

feus20.v023.i01.cover

The article explores the evolution of British, German and French defence policies since the end of the Cold war, interrogating the links between dynamics of policy convergence and bilateral cooperation. It draws conclusions that run against the assumption that international institutions foster the resemblance of national policies.

I reproduce the abstract below:

What are the prospects for trilateral concord among Britain, France and Germany in terms of defence policies? Would more institutionalised links among them lead to more convergence of their defence policies? To answer these interrogations, this article investigates the relation between policy convergence and institutionalised cooperation, in particular by studying whether and when one is a prerequisite to the other. First, this article examines the extent to which these countries’ defence policies have converged since the end of the cold war based on several indicators: their attitudes towards international forums, their defence budgets, the structure of their armed forces and their willingness to use force. Second, we study each of the bilateral relations between the three states to qualitatively analyse their degree of institutionalisation and the convergence of their defence policies. This article concludes that contrary to the arguments of many discussions, think-tank reports and political actors, there is no evidence that institutionalised cooperation leads to policy convergence as far as defence is concerned.”

Strategic Users of Culture: German Decisions for Military Action

My new paper has just been published by Contemporary Security Policy, and is available from here (behind a paywall) and in pdf.

Here is the abstract:

This article looks at cases in which political leaders have engaged in seemingly inconsistent behaviour and explores how they framed and justified their decisions. After showing that strategic culture is composed of different facets, I argue that when faced with conflicting pressures from the international environment and their own national constituencies, political leaders intentionally manipulate facets of their own strategic culture to legitimate a decision, made for contingent reasons, to participate (or not) in a military operation. I illustrate this argument by analysing in depth the decision-making process and public justifications of the German participation in the European and Security Defence Policy (ESDP) mission EUFOR Congo in 2006 and its refusal to militarily participate in a similar mission in Chad in 2007. This conception of strategic culture as both a constraint and a resource for policymakers reinforces our understanding of the boundaries of strategic culture’s explanatory power, and provides an explanation of seemingly inconsistent foreign policy behaviours.

An earlier draft was presented at the ISA annual convention in Montréal (2011) and won the honorable mention of the Alexander George Best Graduate Student Paper Award.

I am extremely grateful to Keith Krause, Stephanie Hofmann, Theo Farrell, Thomas Rid and Heather Williams for their help on earlier versions of the paper.