French Defence Policy into the Twenty-First Century by S. Gregory

By S. Gregory

Because the finish of the chilly warfare French defence coverage has gone through a metamorphosis. France has reformed its nationwide defence to Europeanize and multilateralize its position, moved toward NATO, and emerged as among the world's so much lively army powers. This booklet provides a wide-ranging research, starting off the historical past and coverage framework of French defence, charting the transformation of coverage among 1989 and 1996, and analyzing the position of the French army inside and past Europe into the twenty-first century.

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It is little wonder the perfidious AngloSaxons found de Gaulle arrogant [one commentator memorably wrote of de Gaulle: ‘an improbable creature, like a human giraffe, sniffing down his nostrils at mortals beneath his gaze’32] when he spoke and acted as though master of a great deal more power and influence than actually held. This element of policy-making style is important to the extent that it has persisted long after de Gaulle as one of the elements informing, and arguably clouding, French relations with her allies.

That there have been only two Livres Blancs since the beginning of the Fifth Republic – in 1972 and 1994 – is testimony to the stability of French defence policy and also to the broad scope and long-term relevance of the documents. French Defence in Context 29 The Defence Ministry also prepares the periodic Projet de Loi Relatif à la Programmation Militaire [the formal title of the Loi de Programmation Militaire]. This is a document which typically covers a five-year period [the most recent being 1997–2002] and attempts to set a framework for defence spending, procurement and force levels, and includes detailed information about the disposition of the nuclear forces, the air force, army, navy and gendarmarie71.

It is certainly the case that many Gaullist ideas can be found in French history and that de Gaulle accepted many of the foreign and defence policy elements of the Fourth Republic. Moreover, it is hard to avoid the view that much of what de Gaulle did, though not all, was conditioned by the reality of the time and France’s limited means to do anything else [France could not, for example, have long resisted decolonialisation, nor could France have developed a nuclear arsenal to match that of the USA and USSR].

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