To fight another day: France between the fight against terrorism and future warfare

I co-authored with my colleague Alice Pannier (Johns Hopkins) an article on French defence policy, which was published in the latest issue of International Affairs.
It is available online here, or in PDF.

This article examines the ways in which recent military experiences have affected France’s approach to the use of military power, the role of allies and its vision of future warfare. In its management of strategic challenges, we identify the persistence of many traits of France’s historical habits and practices. France remains a distinct, outward looking, and militarily willing and able European power. However, the threats that France has sought to address and the operational and financial constraints it has faced in the past decade in particular, have led to significant changes in its approach to and conduct of warfare. In particular, the threat of Islamist terrorism has led to a reframing of French governments’ priorities around more narrowly-defined national interests. It has translated into a ‘pragmatic’, or ‘realist’ turn in foreign policy, and a move from ‘wars of choice’ to ‘wars of necessity’. In this context, France’s military alliances are being rethought around a core number of functional partnerships to compensate for capability gaps and military overstretch. Meanwhile, French armed forces are getting prepared to face the challenges posed by emerging technologies and the future of Great-Power competition. Overall, the multiple security challenges faced by successive French governments have confirmed, yet redefined, the contours of France’s traditional dilemma between a desire for an autonomous defense policy and the reality of a necessary reliance on allies.

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.”