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