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  • Author: Dorothée Fouchaux
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The following National Security Outlook is the ninth in AEI's Hard Power series, a project of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. In it, Dorothée Fouchaux examines the state of French forces and France's most recent effort to prioritize its strategic goals and square them with its military capabilities.1 Certainly since Charles de Gaulle's presidency, France has maintained a tradition of thinking strategically for itself-often, admittedly, to the aggravation of its allies. This tradition remains strong and, if anything, has been reinforced in recent years by the sense that the United States is pivoting away from Europe and would like to reduce its footprint in Europe's troubled periphery. With its latest defense white paper, Paris has laid out a program to maintain its "strategic autonomy" through a combination of nuclear deterrence, enhanced intelligence efforts, and discrete power-projection capabilities. But France faces flat defense budgets, the increased cost of its military interventions in Africa, and prospects that budget shortfalls will not be overcome by the sale of public shares of national defense companies or export sales of military hardware. Consequently, some doubt that an even smaller French force will have sufficient resources to address existing problems in readiness and needed capabilities while sustaining a defense research-anddevelopment base sufficient to keep future French forces armed with advanced equipment. In short, France really is living on the strategic edge.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, France