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Sarkozy's Tradeoff: France Considering NATO Reintegration

France has signaled over the past few months that it may pursue reintegration into the NATO command structure, which President Charles de Gaulle fitfully left in 1966.  A sympathetic member of the French National Assembly published an article in Newsweek arguing this move is, “no less than a revolution for NATO and transatlantic relations.” The article explains Sarkozy's proposed tradeoff:
By showing that France is America's trusted friend again, Sarkozy hopes to gain influence on American policy, and, in particular, on lifting the longtime U.S. veto on European defense.
This is an interesting proposal: France will rejoin NATO if it can pursue its own parallel EU military structures.  Many in the US defense establishment have long been concerned that a more autonomous European Security and Defense Policy is intended to act as a counterweight to the United States, or that it will duplicate/detract from NATO programs and assets.  As Soeren Kern of the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos states in World Politics Review:
… most of Sarkozy's proposals seem to be geared toward creating a rival European defense structure that over time will duplicate but not double NATO resources… Indeed, some of the more U.S.-leaning European states suspect that France's renewed interest in rejoining NATO is in fact a Trojan horse designed, ultimately, to destroy the Atlantic Alliance from within.
At the same time, the United States has been pushing Europe to build stronger military capabilities since the Alliance was born, based on a plea for "burden sharing."  One common sentiment, although often expressed with reserve, is that “it doesn’t matter where the forces come from, so long as they come.”  By rejoining NATO, Sarkozy may be able to strike a balance of confidences between what on the face appears to be double-think: convincing America of France’s commitment to Atlanticism, while concurrently pursuing greater European military autonomy. 

However, Soeren Kern points out that even if Sarkozy’s intentions are Atlanticist in nature, they will probably not outlast his term of presidency:
For most of the French ruling elite (the anti-American Left and the nationalist Right), the United States is considered to be the main problem in international affairs because of its reluctance to share its power. The only solution, in their view, is a French-led EU superstate that can counterbalance America on the global stage. And a unified EU foreign and defense policy that is completely independent of NATO (i.e., the United States) is essential to achieve equal status. Until then, anti-Americanism will continue to be the preferred means to accelerate the process of loosening the transatlantic link.
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franchie on :

"the French defense minister just announced that France will cut 50,000 personnel and close down scores of military bases to save funds. That's not exactly the kind of leadership signal likely to trigger a much-needed reappraisal of European defense." these jobs that are going to be cut are state administrative ones with all the advantages of administration, the necessary part of them will be tranferated to private enterprises ; eh, it's EU stances that requierred that France should make some economical cuts in her budget, the specific efforts for defence stay the same, around 2 % of the national budget. Otherwise, what asks the plebe ? it's been more than 15 years (since the fall of the cold war wall) that the Americans discussed their participation into Nato, but I constat they are still the boss, I guess it's still their best way to control EU. It's no mystery that Sarkozy is pushing for an EU army, an EU foreign policy ; that means more economy in the manufacturing of carriers, planes, technologies, that could be sold at exportation either.

Álvaro Degives-Más on :

President De Gaulle didn't leave NATO "fitfully" - he correctly foresaw the emergence of a Tony Blair and his disastrous "special relationship" prevailing over sound, long-term focused trans-Atlantic security policy. Sarkozy, on the other hand, is merely a Realpolitiker with his sights set on the easy short-term political cash that comes with playing footsie with the current occupant of the WH, on his last legs of a second term and therefore in need of some international hallmark trophy, like most of his predecessors. Either way, NATO is increasingly devaluating: a house divided after the demise of the erstwhile common foe, the Soviet Union. I wouldn't spend any capital on it, and neither does Sarkozy, as he's expecting a return on his political investment that amply offsets the move of "integrating" with an increasingly meaningless entity.

franchie on :

well, nothing is yet decided for the army cuts, there are economical contestations in the aeras where there are forecasted closing sites, east of France, Bordeaux... are ones of them ; a rapport is awaited, "le livre blanc", the reservists must get some inssurances for their reclassement : a new job formation. Though, a modern army bet on youth, flexible and well trained forces, if Sarko wants to fullfil his objectives with Nato or an EU army, he can't reduce drastically the army staff.

franchie on :

"Sarkozy, on the other hand, is merely a Realpolitiker with his sights set on the easy short-term political cash that comes with playing footsie with the current occupant of the WH, on his last legs of a second term and therefore in need of some international hallmark trophy, like most of his predecessors" Sarkozy is more a "commis voyageur" that brings businesses contracts, Chirac in a way was the same kind of man, though, the plus, he had the experience of Algeria war, that he made as vonlonteer (with the ENA pass he could have had a protected position)he knew the arabo-muslim mentality, that also explains why he didn't jump in the Irak trap, of which he forecasred the afterword evenments. Chirac was a man to go in the "arena" for an agenda, he could give a lot of his volition for a precise goal, though, when this goal is reached, it's a kind of "warrior rest", he is waiting for the next mission. He said that his best times were in the army in Algeria, and that he would have loved to stay in the army, that were the only times when he decided something that had a real consequences for the men under his commandement. Though the pressure of his family and his wife's family, made that he opted finally for the politic business. He was a close friend of Schröder and Putin, seems that when the three were together, Russia wasn't such a snarky entity. Sarko hasn't the spirit wideness of a Chirac, the respect of the traditions, he is the kind of Blair man, made by the medias and the statistics, he hasn't deep convictions. One can say he is an opportunist, changes his orientations according to the polls, the international context. Though, he isn't the alone state man alike nowadays, seems that the mondialisation generates that sort of political men : because they have no real power, they amuse the gallery. he was also the only alternative we had ; I can't think of what it could have been with a Segolene Royal, the catastrophe ! again, a woman that has been pushed on the scene by the medias. Over the times of a De Gaulle, even of a Mitterand, these persons had a real political project.

Pat Patterson on :

France was fighting a two-front guerilla war in Algeria and Vietnam plus being part of a European centered ant-Soviet bloc, so I'm not to sure how much actual worrying DeGaulle did about the six-year old Anthony Blair. But what he was worried about was the morale of his own country and yet the absolute awareness that France must, covertly, fulfill its NATO role in Europe vs. the Soviet Union. Again public hostility and strategic cooperation behind doors. But as much as people may see France's desire for independence or even the necessity of retaining it negotiating tools outside of NATO it should be remembered that French military doctrine remained cemented to NATO. Same caliber ammuniton, compatability of fuels, radio frequencies and tactical training doctrines remained NATO rather than some supposed grand divide. It rather sounds like there is a lack of political will to increase spending but by the same token to make the best of the resources available. Morin, the Defense Minister, has denied on several occassions of any cuts, but I would appreciate any links. The 50,000 figure probably is coming from a paper reduction of the reserves from 250,000 to a more realistic number of 1000,000. 50,000 reservists, older units or ones deemed not combat ready unless the situation was dire, are being reassigned as Genarmerie. [url]http://www.ndu/inss/Press/jfq-pages/0825.pdf[/url] It appears in this case a reordering of units and a desire to no longer rely on wildly optimistic numbers to be available for activation. Much like in California where we have a National Guard which can be trained and fitted and sent into combat but we also have a California State Guard which can be used in natural disasters and crowd control at Disneyland. I suppose a cynic could say that those two problems are the same thing.

Pat Patterson on :

One stupid little mistake; [url]http://www.ndu/inss/Press/jfq_pages/0825.pdf[/url]

franchie on :

your analyse sound ok, though in 1966, Algeria war was over, idem VietNam's war since a deceny. He was complaining that the Nato direction in Brussel was of Americans', idem for the definition of the goals ; though, he made the gesture to quit Nato administration more to appease the lefts and communists in France that were blocating roads, with the slogan "US go home"

Pat Patterson on :

France's withdrawal from NATO was announced in 1958 and began in 1959 and French military prestige had suffered mightily in SE Asia in the 50's. DeGaulle simply realized that the results of these two wars made virtually impossible the goal of meeting its NATO obligations so the former was abandoned as well as the latter. Plus here's the correct link to the modernization of the french military; [url]http://www.ndu/inss/Press/jfq_pages/0825.pdf[/url]

franchie on :

I still have difficulties on your link you are right, it's in 1958 that De Gaulle began to consider to get out of Nato, in a memorendum addressed to the UK governement, he gave his reasons, mainly the "infeodation" to the atlantic alliance was not in his mind for long, because each 10 years the modalities of the alliance could be rediscussed, he take profit of the delay to annonce his decision --> the beginning of the frenchs bashing started there too. a link in french explains the whole story (unfortunately the english version only treat the relations de Gulle-Churchill) |url=http://www.charles-de-gaulle.org/article.php3?id_article=1070]de Gaulle vs Nato[/url]

franchie on :

I made a reply yesterday evening, it's not yet there, open the spam filter, please

franchie on :

lost in the limbes, I guess ok, I said That I agree that de Gaulle had forecasted his retreat from Nato in 1958. In a memorendum to Mac Milan, he annonced it. This fell right after the decennal anniversary of Nato creation ; it was stipulated that each 10 years the adhesion could be discussed, so he jumped on that occasion. his main agenda was the "independance" of France, --> no "infeodation" to the US Naturally the US got upset and from that decision started the "french bashing" ; though, not only US didn't appreciated, the other EU countries did equally condamned France. {url=http://www.charles-de-gaulle.org/article.php3?id_article=181]de Gaulle explanation (in french, take a translator)|/url] don't click on the english version, that has nothing to do with Nato, but with Churchill and de Gaulle relations

John in Michigan, USA on :

"Naturally the US got upset and from that decision started the 'french bashing' ; though, not only US didn't appreciated, the other EU countries did equally condamned France." Forgive me, but I've always wondered if the French decision in 1958 wasn't a little bit short-sighted. France understood that NATO would have to defend the West German border and that even West Germany provided enough of a buffer from the Warsaw Pact countries that France was in no real danger from there. Given all that France had suffered from Germany, it is understandable that France would be reluctant to commit French lives to defending Germany; and also, France correctly felt that it was entitled to take full advantage of Germany's position on the map. So France left NATO. I say short-sighted because it reduced France's stature in the world. France saw the move as asserting a certain independence and therefore emphasizing French greatness. Furthermore, taking advantage of the good fortune of geography and using West Germany as a buffer is a perfectly understandable position of efficiency (getting the most benefit for the lowest cost). However, it also sent a different message: Greatness would suggest bearing a certain cost in order to show that France meant to be a factor in affairs in the larger world. France hoped that the bomb in 1960, and perhaps the Algerian War, would be enough to ensure the stature that France desired, but perhaps it wasn't. Perhaps at the time there was no choice?

franchie on :

John, it's funny, when one state dares to manifest some kind of independance spirit, then it is translated by the US as short-sighted, arrogance, sense of greatness... in de Gaulle's mind, leaving Nato had nothing to do whether it was for defending west germany against a soviet threat or not, neither a remind of anger against Germany anterior war (De Gaulle and Adenauer, were the firsts to think of an alliance that would prevent the both countrie from coming again at war : the alliance of carbon and steel, it was the premices of the future EU creation), it was mainly a manifest of french independance within the anglo-saxon understandings of the world. as a result, it was not reducing France's stature in the world ; this was, in contrary, France's opening to the worldwide ; recognition of China, arab politic of france, trade with URSS... if you think it was, then, why is it you still focus on France's reactions to any event on the earth ? I don't like Sarkozy's going in Blair's feet, this wasn't de Gaulle's spirit ; because the US are supposed to be a mighty state, it doesn't meen that it has always raison on the events, and a fair partner has the duty to remind what are the objectionable arguments to its policy, so did France till Chirac, Sarko has been fetiched by the american state department, that is why I don't predict that he"ll have a long political life over here, may-be he will not finish his mandate... that's the people opinion here, though he was needed for the "karscher" effect for the reforms and the immigration policy.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"John, it's funny, when one state dares to manifest some kind of independence spirit, then it is translated by the US as short-sighted, arrogance, sense of greatness..." You misunderstand. I wasn't attacking the French desire for independence or greatness. I was suggesting that the French withdrawal from NATO represented not greatness, but a sort of smallness. It was the independence of a teenager who declares his independence from his family but still expects to have a safe place to return if things go wrong. True independence would be a determination to make one's own way in the world no matter what. Perhaps even to start a new family. The French nuclear bomb was a step in that direction, since it was an impressive technical feat at the time, but it alone was not enough to assert greatness because others had done it too, and in greater numbers. The French nuclear power industry is probably the best post WWII example of the true French greatness. The French is not the only nation to use nuclear power, but France alone has mastered both the technology and the social issues, and taken it to a level of success that no-one else has been able to match. Oil is useful for so many things that no-one today is independent of it; but France has come the closest to realizing the dream of oil independence. An interesting question: Do the French see the EU has a means to increasing the greatness of France, or have you replaced the dream of French greatness with the dream of European greatness?

franchie on :

"I was suggesting that the French withdrawal from NATO represented not greatness, but a sort of smallness. It was the independence of a teenager who declares his independence from his family but still expects to have a safe place to return if things go wrong." I wouldn't call De Gaulle a "teenager", but more a man that had a political vision for the remainings of a french identity, he, he was also a litterature man, made a few books that are taken as writing "chef-d'oeuvres" in the vein of Chateaubriand. Israel could be compared with de Gaulle's ambition as far as the spirit of self-care for defense is considered France didn't ask for protection to anyone so far, I hope she'll be able to assume her protection for long. Sarkozy is the epiphenomen of France history : he is the first man elected that is of a foreign ancestry, that has not a "bourgeoisie" tradition in the government or military rules of our State, whose hungarish and jewish family is well enclined towards the US policy. He is though an ambitious man, that thinks while making reverence to the boss, he'll get some rewards, in this attitude, I say, he is not french, that is why, I don't predict that he'll stay long on his estrade. "True independence would be a determination to make one's own way in the world no matter what. Perhaps even to start a new family" uh, I suppose that's what we were working at so far, what you mean by a new family ? quit EU and start a new association ? impossible since 2000 years our place in history is in EU and at the mediterranean borders. "An interesting question: Do the French see the EU has a means to increasing the greatness of France, or have you replaced the dream of French greatness with the dream of European greatness?" With Germany,Spain,Russia, we have no problem to express our "frenchitude", these countries surely don't want that we look like them. I can't say that of the Anglo-saxons obedience countries, they want to absorb us as a convenient territory : 4 sea coasts, north sea, Channel, Atlantic, Mediterranea, that is surely a well situated place for belligerent trade nations Italy, it's a bit different, they see us more as cultural concurrents. Greatness of France is only viewed by an anglo-saxon mind, for the others we are only a partner as far as our EU military dream, it's may be that traditionally we kept an army, that nowadays, our alone country can't afford the costful technologies, if it only were of men costs, then, no problem, we could ride alone : he, our banlieusards love the "castagne" then they could enrolled, forced or not :lol:

Zyme on :

European common defense is a fascinating project that would supply us with a whole lot of new options. The only problem is, it is still a long way to go. Anyhow, I would not consider the common european defense policy a failure when it is not a fully working military alliance yet. Its circumstances are not here yet, only preparations are made. One has to look at it from a different point of view: Imagine the European Defense as a net of veins that interconnects the EU member´s armies. It is not yet clear what the target of this network will be, but generally military alliances serve a political purpose. Just like everything else in EU level, the roadmap is not questioned. Instead, continuing along the line of integration is the continental dogma. In effect, we right now have no use for a european defense. This network of veins does lack its blood so to speak - but the network is there. Once the international constellation is right, it can spring to life quickly. But to assume for sure that these are also Sarkozy´s intentions when joining Nato (to appease the Americans) seems a little far-fetched. This man has a whole lot of political ideas and if he is able to implement only the average amount of an ordinary statesmen, then I guess we are all impressed.

franchie on :

Zyme, it was also in Chirac's mind hehe, I bet there will be some egos concurrence in EU,for whom's going to have the best ideas or previsions ... though, notes for the future : the president of EU should speak 3 or 4 languages of EU, make a campaign in EU to get elected from the population, that would be fair !

Zyme on :

Yes of course, I would have had to mention Chirac here. A statesman par excellence who had so many good ideas about uniting Europe, opposing American influence and having Russia as a strategical partner. His input and his experience in diplomacy are missed in Germany, I can assure you! As regards the voting idea: That would be a striking danger for the European Integration. Just imagine: If our national leaders are not immune against public wavering, how is this going to turn out over the course of 27 member peoples? Especially long term projects like the EU need a government that can think beyond the ordinary election period. If European leaders were bound to the various peoples, how far do you think the Brits and the Poles would allow us to go further along the road of Europe? Regarding our political leadership speaking the major languages, I can fully agree to that. How are they supposed to govern us, when not even speaking our most important languages!

franchie on :

Zyme, yeah, I guess the Brits and Poles would be difficult to content, of couse english should be the main language, german, french, spanish followings... well in a "I have a dream" perspective, federal EU states ! why not considering elections like in the US ? Joe, actually there are commun exercices with the german and french army, idem with the french and british navy, dunno about the other countries. UNIFIL in Lebanon is under an italian commandement in Chad and Darfur, an irish commandement, Kossovo, dunno who is the actual commandement, Frenchs were once, idem for Kaboul... so it's no problem with the armies persons, it a politicians problem in each country that think they know better how to manage conflicts

Joe Noory on :

They learned this in NATO. Common standards, common practices, interchangable communication frequencies, cartriges, supplies, generally the training practices, etc. The only thing that is probably too hard to integrate are hand signals, proprietary patented weapons systems, fuel types, and vehicle parts.

Joe Noory on :

That "net of veins" is how all militaries work on one scale or another from the battallion level up. They could have done this years ago if they were willing to restructure who held responsibilities for which specialities. It's obvious who will be the nuclear elves, the air mobility elves, the tanker elf, etc... Instead they bicker. The only hope for the present is to keep NATO as their net of veins until they can structure themselves and treat their NATO membership as an external feature of the EU defense structure, and not be the EU's defense structure.

Zyme on :

The time is simply not ripe. 27 different states have had a hard time uniting economically and do have a hard time uniting politically. How can you expect them to merge their armies quickly? As a comparison, how long do you think it would take the american countries to unite, were they willing?

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