April 1, 2012
Cross-currents in French Defense and U.S. Interests
France is the only European ally—except for the United Kingdom (UK)—that regards its military capabilities, operational performance, and defense industry as vital levers to exert global influence. While the French believe strongly in their need to preserve “strategic independence,” they see new challenges in the evolving international security environment that will oblige them to accept greater cooperation with others, even in areas once considered too sensitive to discuss. Although some French strategists remain uncomfortable with the notion of closer defense ties with the United States, others ask whether there might be a greater danger ahead: specifically, if Europe’s strength dissipates as America “rebalances” toward the Asia-Pacific region, where does France turn to find capable and willing partners to protect its security interests?