La Guerre et la Paix. Approches et Enjeux de la Sécurité et de la Stratégie

I had the pleasure to co-author with Charles-Philippe David the 4th edition of his classic “La Guerre et la Paix”.
The book is available online from the Presses de Sciences Po.

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.

The thinkers of irregular warfare

I just published a book chapter, in French, entitled ” the thinkers of irregular warfare”. The chapter is part of an edited volume on the thinkers of strategy, which constitutes an update of Paret’s classic work.

You can buy the the volume here, and I also reproduce the table of contents below.

penseurs stratégie

Thucydide : stratégie, géostratégie et histoire,
par Jean-Nicolas Corvisier, Professeur d’histoire ancienne, Université d’Artois.

La pensée stratégique byzantine,
par Jean-Claude Cheynet, Professeur d’histoire byzantine, Université Paris-Sorbonne.

Polybe, sa pensée et sa réception,
par Thierry Widemann, Chargé d’Etudes à l’Irsem.

La pensée stratégique de Guibert entre science et littérature,
par Hervé Drévillon, Professeur d’histoire moderne, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Machiavel,
par Pierre Manent (EHESS)

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A Tragic Lack of Ambitions: Why EU Security Policy is no Strategy

My latest article has been published by Contemporary Security Policy. You can access the online version here and download the pdf here.

It is a short article, part of a symposium discussing European security policy. The idea of the symposium was initiated by an article by Cladi and Locatelli arguing that the European Union is basically bandwagoning with the United States. This article triggered a reply by Benjamin Pohl, who instead argues that the EU is neither balancing nor bandwagoning, but that European security policy is driven partly by a shared liberal consensus, and partly by diverging national preferences and priorities rooted in idiosyncratic political cultures.

The symposium, which brings together the contributions of Felix Berenskoetter, Tom Dyson, Trine Flockhart, Adrian Hyde-Price, Jens Ringsmose and myself, discusses these two perspectives.

I reproduce below the abstract of my own article:

Tools of classical strategic analysis support distinctive explanations for the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union. Looking at the articulation between ends, ways, and means offers a perspective on the CSDP that is different from the approaches usually favoured by European Union specialists or even security studies scholars. In particular, it is argued here that the CSDP is no strategy, and little more than an institutional make-up for the lack of strategic thinking within the European Union. First, I show that the CSDP is not European security, and that the EU security policy is astonishingly absent from the security challenges facing Europe. Second, I argue that this situation stems from a lack of a political project within the European Union. I refer to the classical distinction made by Hans Morgenthau between pouvoir and puissance to show that, short of a political project, we will not see a strategic CSDP any time soon.

Contemporary Security Policy

French Strategic Culture

I co-authored with Bastien Irondelle (Sciences Po Paris) a book chapter on the French strategic culture, published in a collective book entitled Strategic Cultures in Europe.

This is the first book adopting a common framework to compare the strategic cultures of all of the EU member-states. The product is then theoretically sound and empirically extremely rich, and should be of interest to anyone working on european security issues.

The book can be ordered on the editor’s website.

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NATO and the end of the expeditionary model

I published an article (in French) in the prestigious Revue Défense Nationale on “Nato and the End of the Expeditionary Model”. It is available online and in PDF.

Here is the abstract: After twenty years of expeditionary activities, we can see the emergence of a less interventionist posture within the Atlantic alliance. A less interventionist NATO would nevertheless keep its utility as: a communication channel between the Europeans, the Russians and the Americans; a socializing institution for newcomers; a deterrent capability in new areas of collective vulnerability.

The paper is published in a special issue on NATO, which deals with many aspects of the alliance in a fresh and multinational perspective. You can access the TOC here.

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.

Alien invasions and the U.S. strategic debate

This is a slightly longer version of a post on Kings of War.

I recently watched Battleship and, frankly, I had a lot of fun. The movie is at times thrilling, visually impeccable, voluntarily caricatural (hence funny) and if, like me, your favorite mind-clearing technique is to watch a blockbuster, you should appreciate it. As a reserve naval officer, I was sort of bound to enjoy it anyways because of the beautiful ships displayed. However, after a good two hours of laughs and visual entertainment, the movie got me into thinking about the cinematic expression of strategic concerns in the U.S.

Several scholars, in particular James S. Shapiro or James Der Derian have shown the epistemic significance of cinema as a way to both show and constitute specific world visions. In particular, Hollywood (producers, actors, agents, etc.) being the largest entertainment conglomerate in the world, it is both sensitive to the political climate in the U.S. and is a great medium to export and, to a certain extent, shape these political trends. For example, several American actors opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a mobilization significantly different from the opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1970s. But while some liberal-minded Hollywood stars can sometimes oppose the U.S. foreign policy, a specific sub-field of the Hollywood production is much more closely associated with the mainstream discourse.

Continue reading “Alien invasions and the U.S. strategic debate”

“Cheese-eating surrender monkeys?”

I attended the last International Studies Association (ISA) annual meeting in San Diego, and participated in a roundtable I helped to organize entitled “Cheese-eating surrender monkeys? Reassessing the French contribution to international security”.

The aim of the roundtable, chaired by my thesis supervisor Theo Farrell, was to bring together French and American scholars and have them discuss France’s role on the international stage in a funny, friendly, and provocative way.

The French team consisted of Prof. Pascal Vennesson (European University Institute), Prof. Frédéric Charillon (IRSEM) and I. The US team was made up of two big guns realists: John Mearsheimer (U. Chicago) and William Wohlworth (Darthmouth College).

The discussion was quite interesting. Pascal Vennesson showed that France’s return to NATO was just a normalization, since the majority of the recent French military interventions were already happening in a NATO framework. Frédéric Charillon argued that France was facing the traditional dilemma of middle-range powers: how to reinvent the ways to matter on the international stage when France’s power (measured by traditional indicators such as military power, economy, size of the population, etc.) is seen has gradually diminishing? I tried to list the main issues in contemporary international security, and to show that in most of them (the notable exception being the Israel-Palestine conflict), France was playing an arguably positive role. Moreover, France’s “immaterial” resources (I don’t like the term “soft power”) also matter: for example, France is one of the very rare countries at the UN to be able to draft an entire UNSC resolution in both French and English, hence setting the agenda in some ways.

John Mearsheimer adopted a historic look at France’s role, and argued that it was gradually diminishing over the last two centuries, because of a relative French decline in the traditional indicators of power. Basically, he thought that France did not matter anymore, a view consistent with his own theory of international politics. Of course, the three Frenchmen on the panel begged to differ and offered a more nuanced appraisal. William Wohlworth asked why France was so irritating to the US public and argued that it was because France behaved pretty much as predicted by the realist theory of international politics, which did not fit into the American liberal narrative on foreign policy. Hence the framing of France’s behavior as an issue of betrayal or reliability instead of an issue of diverging or shared interests. Wohlworth also tried to balance Mearsheimer’s view, arguing that it is only compared to the US that France appears weak, and that the French voice in the world still matters a lot.

The debate with the audience covered topics such as the Anglo-French defense treaties, France’s relations with Germany or the state of the French armed forces.

Overall, an interesting and funny debate.

From left to right: William C. Wohlworth, John Mearsheimer, Theo Farrell, myself, Frédéric Charillon and Pascal Vennesson