France and NATO: The Image and the Reality


From Parameters, Winter 1994, pp. 76-89.

French policy toward NATO has long befuddled US policymakers. Bilateral security and defense cooperation between Washington and Paris has long been cordial, if not intimate. Moreover, relations between the respective armed services of these two countries have also been close and mutually supportive of common national objectives.[1] However, this degree of bilateral cooperation has not extended into the multilateral fora of NATO. Paris has long suspected US motives in the Alliance and harbored perceptions of inadequate political control over NATO's military structures.[2] This distrust has resulted in obstructionist, if not counterproductive, French policies toward the Alliance. It is little wonder that US officials have been confused by this seemingly irrational and schizophrenic approach toward an organization which has provided the very bases for French national security.

In its own way, French Cold War policy toward NATO was logical. It was logical because President Charles de Gaulle, the architect of French security policy for the 5th Republic, felt that NATO-defined missions could not ensure civilian control over the military to the degree that nationally defined missions could. De Gaulle's decision to withdraw from NATO's integrated military structure thus served as the basis for Gaullist defense policy, which continues to influence strongly French strategy:[3]

During the Cold War, the Gaullist legacy offered France the luxury of pursuing a defense policy that supported specific French national interests, while Washington stationed forces in Germany and kept the Soviet Union out of Western Europe. Under these circumstances, France maintained an independent distance from NATO, garrisoned forces in Germany, developed national nuclear forces, and deployed military forces throughout the world in support of French and Western interests. Paris, in short, had all of the political advantages of an aspiring world power without having to pay the full political cost associated with NATO membership.[4]

Regrettably for France, this has all changed as recent events have destroyed the comfortable assumptions that underwrote Gaullist strategy. Pierre Lellouche writes, "The French too are awakening, reluctantly, to a messy Europe, where most of the basic foreign policy and defense guidelines laid out by General Charles de Gaulle 35 years ago are simply no longer relevant."[5] Moreover, recent circumstances have unleashed a series of events that have challenged cherished French political objectives in Europe. German unification ended the long held (indeed, polite) myth of French leadership in the close Franco-German relationship.[6] The French vision for a deeper European Union (EU)[7] has effectively been placed on hold while the EU is widened (expanded in membership) with the inclusion of Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Austria, and, perhaps by the end of the decade, Switzerland and some of the Visegrad states of Central Europe.[8] Finally, the continuing conflict in the former Yugoslavia, and Western Europe's seeming inability to halt hostilities there, let alone bring about a long-term peace, have made French officials realize that their approach to dealing with both the United States and NATO needs to be revised.[9]

While these circumstances may be widely known within the US policymaking community, the effects of these new conditions on French policy toward NATO may be less well understood. The key question about French policy remains whether its reassessment of NATO reflects changes in policy, attitude, or both. This article argues that altered regional security conditions have forced French President François Mitterrand to change aspects of French policy toward NATO. However, lingering atavistic attitudes within certain elements of the French bureaucracy may complicate the implementation and longevity of these new policies. Indeed, one needs to recognize that notwithstanding France's newly found interest in participating in NATO consultative fora, structures, programs, and activities, some French attitudes will not necessarily be all that different, or less difficult for Alliance and US officials to confront.

Consequently, it is quite likely that American perceptions of French "perfidy" toward NATO will continue in some measure to impede closer ties with France. Yet, as recent events have demonstrated, French policy toward NATO is capable of dramatic change (notwithstanding French statements to the contrary) when French national interests so dictate. An appreciation of the subtle differences in policy and attitude will elucidate actual changes in the content of French policy, and will indicate how policy will, or will not, be implemented.

Who's Who in Paris

Before examining the details of how and why French policy toward NATO has changed, one needs to review the elements of the security policymaking community in Paris and consider their complex interactions. For example, even those relatively familiar with Paris may not fully comprehend how strong an influence domestic politics exert over French policy toward NATO. And because of the past content and rhetoric of French security policy, many may not be aware that the United States and NATO enjoy strong support within portions of the French bureaucracy. Few of these individuals and bureaucracies, however, are at the pinnacle of the French decisionmaking structure.

Presidential Palace (Palais de l'Elysée). Under the Constitution of the 5th Republic, the President of the Republic need not take counsel of anyone in matters of defense and security policy. Such matters are his exclusively, his domaine réservé. However, David Yost, a leading expert on French security, has argued that President Mitterrand has taken a selective interest in defense issues (European, nuclear) and largely has left the administration of the French armed forces to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense.[10] The key result of this condition is that unless the President makes a specific personal effort to change security policy, inertia prevails. Concerning NATO, Mitterrand's Gaullist political foes have long painted him as an opponent of the widely popular principles of de Gaulle's defense and security policy. Thus, Mitterrand may oppose rapprochement with NATO--rejoining the integrated military command structure,[11] for example--not because of principled opposition to the idea but because he does not want his legacy to include betrayal of Gaullist security policy.[12]

Foreign Office (Quai d'Orsay). As befits any foreign ministry, the Quai attempts to dominate foreign and security policy. Thus, whenever the President and his advisors are not actively engaged in initiating or overseeing a change in policy, the Quai reigns supreme in the implementation of foreign and security policy. Moreover, the Quai is extremely powerful: it is staffed by graduates of the Grandes Ecoles, whose stature is unequalled by graduates of any other French or European university. Perhaps more important for dominating the security and defense bureaucracy, the Quai is the agency charged with receiving and distributing (or not distributing as the case may be) official communications received from outside of France.

Special internal political considerations also contribute to the Quai's bureaucratic preeminence in security policy. De Gaulle perceived that NATO's integrated command structure lacked sufficient political oversight. Intent on maintaining tight civilian control over the military, de Gaulle and his successors have relied on the Quai to ensure close scrutiny over security policy. Consequently, the Quai traditionally has fought vociferously against French participation in the Alliance's military structures.[13] To put it diplomatically, the Quai is suspicious of NATO, and makes its concern known at every opportunity.

Ministry of Defense (Hôtel de Brienne). As a consequence of the Gaullist objective of ensuring civil control over the military, the Ministry of Defense has long had scant influence in the formulation of national strategy and security policy. As a result, it historically has operated at a disadvantage in the interagency policy formulation process, a situation compounded by the presence of a cadre of politico-military and security affairs experts in the Foreign Ministry. Thus, despite the fact that many military and civilian officials have long wished for closer ties to NATO, change has been precluded by the relative weakness of the Hotel de Brienne.

The situation has recently changed. In 1992 the Minister of Defense, Pierre Joxe, reorganized and strengthened the Délégation aux Etudes Générales with top-flight civilian and military security analysts and renamed it the Délégation aux Affairs Stratégique (DAS). This reorganization better prepared him when he and his ministry sallied forth into the interagency policy-formulation process.[14] Moreover, the elevation of Admiral Jacques Lanxade to Chief of Staff of the armed forces, the French experience in the Gulf War, and the deployment of sizable numbers of French forces to the former Yugoslavia have increased dramatically the Ministry's influence in the interagency formulation of national strategy and security policy. In short, many in the French government, and particularly within the security policy apparatus, recognize that the new European security environment requires input from the Hôtel de Brienne in the policymaking process.

Office of the Prime Minister (Hôtel Matignon). Given the President of the Republic's domaine réservé in defense and security policy, the Prime Minister traditionally has wielded little power in these areas. However, with the return to power of the conservatives (Rassemblement pour la Répubique--RPR, headed by Jacques Chirac, and the Union pour la Démocratie Française--UDF, led by former president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing), France confronted a second instance of government divided between a president of a party different from the majority party in parliament. The first period of such cohabitation occurred when Jacques Chirac--President Mitterrand's arch political enemy--was Prime Minister from 1986 to 1988.[15] Because of that tumultuous experience, Mitterrand has gone out of his way to ensure a solid working relationship with the current Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur,[16] a key member of Chirac's RPR.

Evidence of the lengths to which Mitterrand will go to ensure the success of this working relationship with Balladur can be found in the recent release of a Defense White Paper, the first such document published since 1972.[17] French initiatives seeking to end the Yugoslav civil war and the presence of large numbers of French troops there have also necessitated Balladur's support and input into the policymaking process.[18] This cooperative atmosphere (which, not insignificantly, undermines Chirac's chances in the April 1995 presidential elections) has produced a unique situation in which the Prime Minister has regularly been brought into the policymaking circle by the opposition. Despite his early claim that he would not challenge Mitterrand, Balladur has used the opportunity to encroach on the President's security prerogatives and "to gather the strategic community around the prime minister" in preparation for his own run for the presidency in 1995.[19] As result of the Prime Minister's new influence, the domaine réservé is now sometimes referred to as a domaine partagé (shared domain).[20]

General Secretariat of National Defense (Secretariat General de la Défense Nationale--SGDN). Organizationally under the Prime Minister, the SGDN is not a decisionmaking body, but rather a coordinating agency whose principal activities include managing national intelligence efforts and developing net assessments. SGDN is also the principal coordinating agency for crisis management. Since the 1992 establishment of the Délégation aux Affairs Stratégique, the SGDN has lost some influence, particularly in developing net assessments.

The National Assembly and the Senate (Assemblée nationale and Sénat). Apart from providing budgetary input as the important long-term defense program is being developed, these legislative bodies exert little influence on national strategy and security policy. The French Parliament lacks the resources and the extensive organizational support (such as the Congressional Research Service and Congressional Budget Office) that allow the US Congress to influence significantly the formulation of defense and security policy. Notwithstanding the activities of their respective legislative committees, and given the power of the Elysée in defense and security policy, the legislature is relatively unimportant in formulating national defense and security policy.

When attempting to decipher French policy and attitudes toward NATO, one should never forget that their basis is largely founded on domestic, as opposed to external, political rationales.[21] And although there is a large security policymaking community in the French government, key decisions on policy issues are made by the President, in close collaboration with the Foreign Office. Given the high esteem in which the French public continues to hold General de Gaulle, successive Presidents have been loath to veer far from the tenets of Gaullist defense and security policy.[22] Public discord between Mitterrand and Balladur over Gaullist security and defense principles would remove one of the few remaining bipartisan agreements in French domestic politics. Bipartisan announcements notwithstanding, basic policy differences occasionally produce conflicting signals from the French government.

Strains also exist within the policymaking bureaucracies. For example, under the 5th Republic there have always been differences between the Elysée and the Matignon over the respective roles of the President and the Prime Minister in the formulation and conduct of security policy. While this has been true even when both offices have been occupied by members of the same political party, it has been exacerbated during the two periods of cohabitation.[23]

Other domestic political issues continue to shape French policy toward NATO. Most obvious are the differences between the Socialists and their opponents on the right, the RPR and the UDF. Equally important is the jockeying for position for the upcoming presidential election within the right--Giscard (UDF) and Chirac (RPR)--as well as within the RPR (Chirac vs. Balladur). The result of all these competing and conflicting interactions is that they confuse French policymaking and thus confound outside observers of French security policy.

Changes in French NATO Policy

The year 1991 was a difficult one for French officials. According to David Yost, the Gulf War had a chilling effect upon many of the military and political assumptions undergirding French strategy and security policy.[24] The French experience during the Gulf crisis largely explains the emergence of a dual, not always consistent, French approach to NATO. Clinging to the old axiom that the maintenance of bilateral security ties with the United States should be dealt with separately from NATO issues, some French officials--particularly then-Foreign Minister Roland Dumas--argued that the United States, the sole remaining superpower, needed to be balanced by an independent and more deeply integrated European Community.[25] Hence, France opposed efforts to transform NATO from a purely collective defense organization to a body that could participate in collective security missions (e.g., peacekeeping operations) under Article IV of the NATO Treaty.[26] The French government offered an alternative that favored a stronger and revitalized European Union (vice the Atlantic Community) which eventually would undertake collective security responsibilities.[27] These French initiatives, sponsored by the Foreign Minister, failed.

During this same period President Mitterrand and Minister of Defense Pierre Joxe also began quietly reassessing and changing French policy toward NATO. Nine months after NATO started examining its strategy, Joxe surprised many analysts by announcing that France would participate in the Alliance's ongoing strategy review.[28] Given that the divisive debates that led up to the Alliance's adoption of the strategy of Flexible Response in 1966 contributed significantly to de Gaulle's decision to leave NATO, this move by the President and his Defense Minister had both substantive and symbolic meaning. France's subsequent endorsement of the Alliance's New Strategic Concept at the November 1991 Rome Summit further underscored the shift in French policy. At the same time, Paris continued to oppose French participation in the Defense Planning Committee (DPC), much to Joxe's disappointment,[29] and remains suspicious of the lack of sufficient political control over the SACEUR.

Notwithstanding the importance of these developments, the most significant step in France's policy evolution was the French decision at the Oslo NATO foreign ministers meeting, in June 1992, to underwrite NATO participation in Article IV peacekeeping missions under the political auspices of the United Nations and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.[30] Equally important, the French are participating under NATO aegis in missions such as Operation Deny Flight and Sharp Guard.[31]

These decisions have had three key effects. First, by agreeing to these new missions for the Alliance, France retreated from its long-held view that NATO should not be employed for missions other than the collective defense of its members.[32] Second, since April 1993, the Chief of the French Military Mission to the NATO Military Committee has participated in Military Committee discussions dealing with "peacekeeping,"[33] however broadly defined.[34] Third, the recent White Paper leaves the door open for the Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff of the armed forces to participate in the North Atlantic Council and the Military Committee, on a case-by-case basis, as decided by the President and Prime Minister.[35]

There are several reasons for these changes in French policy. The French have recognized that the dramatic changes in the European security environment have made NATO more important, not less so as they originally perceived.[36] Their experience with the Western European Union and the crisis in the former Yugoslavia, for example, have reinforced for the French the importance of NATO.

This may be the case particularly in peace operations, which appears to be the most likely venue in which French forces might be employed. Consequently, the French have insisted on increasing the power and importance of the Military Committee in Article IV missions, at the expense of the Major NATO Commands. This has resulted in the Chief of the French Military Mission to the Military Committee attending its meetings as a participant, rather than as an observer, for the first time since France left the integrated command structure in 1966.

Participation in the Military Committee is certainly more politically palatable within France than allowing the Minister of Defense to attend DPC meetings, because such a symbolic and substantive move would enhance the power and prestige of the defense ministry at the expense of the foreign office. Moreover, if the Minister of Defense attended such meetings, other DPC members might demand that France participate fully in the defense planning process, a policy change the French are unlikely to make any time soon.[37]

Just as the French military has returned to high-level defense discussions in NATO, so, too, the French military now participates in a standing multinational structure in peacetime. Granted, the French have continued as nonintegrated participants in specific NATO functions, such as the integrated air defense systems and certain logistics and infrastructure activities. And agreements to allow cooperation in a crisis between French forces and NATO military commands (e.g., agreements with SACEUR and CINCENT) have existed since 1967.[38] New initiatives, however, indicate the extent of change in French policy.

The first example concerns command and control of the Eurocorps. The Eurocorps, a joint initiative of President Mitterrand and German Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, emerged from the fall 1991 Franco-German Summit at La Rochelle.[39] The Eurocorps, as proposed, was to be based on an existing Franco-German brigade and provide the foundation for a European Security and Defense Identity. Although the Bush Administration and others in the Alliance strenuously opposed the initiative as another French assault on NATO,[40] the Germans touted the Eurocorps as a means of easing French participation into Alliance military structures.[41] The German view appeared vindicated when, according to press reports, on 21 January 1993 an agreement signed by the Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr, General Klaus Naumann; then-SACEUR, General John Shalikashvili; and Admiral Lanxade placed the Eurocorps under the operational command (vice control) of the SACEUR for the conduct of NATO missions.[42] Thus, not only are French forces assigned to the Eurocorps anchored within a multinational structure, but French forces could be placed under the command of the SACEUR for wartime operations should signatory nations so decide, with all the peacetime implications this entails.[43]

The issues of NATO command and control and French forces in Article IV collective security missions continued their evolution when, at the January 1994 NATO Summit, France agreed to US initiatives for the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and the Combined/Joint Task Force (C/JTF).[44] While Paris agreed in principle to both concepts, implementation of the initiatives has not been without expressions of French reluctance. For example, Paris insisted that the Planning Coordination Cell (the nerve center of PfP), while located at SHAPE in Mons, could not be under the control of SACEUR, but would be answerable to the North Atlantic Council in Brussels. Additionally, Paris manifested its long-held suspicions of the SACEUR during discussions concerning the development of the terms of reference for C/JTF.[45] While the French position was perhaps not precisely what the United States and other Alliance countries would have preferred, the mere fact that Paris did not veto these concepts marks a significant change in French policy.[46]

A final notable change in French policy toward NATO relates to weapons of mass destruction. In recognition of the importance of this issue and the absolute need to coordinate related Western efforts, the French have agreed to participate in the Alliance's political and defense committees dealing with nonproliferation.[47] Within the defense committee, France not only participates in the Senior Defence Group on Proliferation, but cochairs the group with the United States.[48] Paris's participation in this group is one of the few times France has joined in a defense committee project since 1966. Clearly, the potential magnitude of the proliferation problem and the overriding need to coordinate efforts with its allies have prompted this important change in French policy.

Implementing French NATO Policy

If it is important to know how French policy toward NATO has changed, it is equally important to understand the manner in which this change in policy has been carried out. Understanding the process of change will identify sources of new problems; it may also provide key indicators of the probability of further change, as well as the durability of recent French initiatives in NATO.

There are two impediments to recognizing change in French policy toward NATO. First, it seems that whenever senior French officials from the Prime Minister's office or the Ministry of Defense announce an apparent policy change, these declarations are almost inevitably followed by denials from the President's office or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[49] Second, in view of past French policy and attitudes toward the Alliance, some observers and officials find it difficult to accept that Paris has changed its NATO policy. This has been the case not only in a historical sense (during the Cold War) but was reinforced by French rhetoric and actions during 1989-92 as the Alliance developed its new strategy and significantly reduced its force structures.

The choice of Admiral Jacques Lanxade as the primary agent of change has been one of the more remarkable aspects of France's policy toward NATO. Mitterrand chose a military official for this task, as opposed to the Foreign Minister or a professional diplomat, for two reasons. First, as the President's Chief of Military Staff in the Elysée during the Gulf War, Lanxade was well placed to coordinate France's involvement in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, especially in sensitive political discussions with French allies, and particularly with the United States. Following the end of hostilities in April 1991, Admiral Lanxade became Chief of Staff of the armed forces. Because he enjoys Mitterrand's confidence, he has been able to restructure the French armed forces, paying particular attention to joint and combined operations. This reorganization and emphasis on joint issues, in turn, supports Mitterrand's new policy of enhanced selectivity with NATO.

Second, as noted earlier, internal French politics helped drive Lanxade's selection for this task. Since the start of the second period of cohabitation, the issue of NATO has taken on an interesting partisan flavor, beyond its normal levels. Many currently assume that the race in the forthcoming French presidential elections is between Jacques Chirac (the leader of the RPR and mayor of Paris) and RPR Prime Minister Balladur (a previous Chirac supporter). Within this unusual intraparty struggle, Foreign Minister Alain Juppé supports Chirac, while Minister of Defense François Léotard supports Balladur.

As a result of this partisan political morass, Lanxade is the one individual capable of operating above partisan politics while still maintaining close relations with all the major political actors, particularly President Mitterrand. Indeed, French officials readily--albeit privately--acknowledge that Lanxade is probably the most influential and powerful official in the area of defense policymaking and implementation that France has seen in many years.[50]


While the preceding analysis indicates that French policy toward NATO appears to have changed, the depth of that change remains open to question: Do the issues described above constitute a fundamental change in policy, or has policy remained relatively fixed while the French pursue new means to their long-established ends? Even if French policy has changed, have attitudes in key elements of the French policy bureaucracy altered sufficiently to carry out the change, or will bureaucratic foot-dragging forestall full-scale implementation?

On balance, it should be clear that long-standing French policies toward the Alliance have changed. Before asserting that France has "returned" to the Alliance, however, one must understand that Mitterrand's reconsideration of France's relationship with NATO will not result in a return to status quo ante 1966.[51] Indeed, French policymakers--even those who most strongly support NATO--continue to pronounce that France will not return to the Alliance's integrated military structure.[52] Nor do the developments constitute a rapprochement, as suggested by one French journal.[53] Simply put, apparently irreconcilable differences remain between France and NATO. The determined independence of the French nuclear deterrent and strategy, and the French phobia about political oversight of NATO military authorities appear unlikely to be changed regardless of who wins the 1995 presidential election. A reconciliation does not a marriage remake.

While France is drawing closer to NATO, the Alliance should expect France to continue to pursue a policy of NATO à la carte. Certainly, the menu of French choices appears to be expanding, but the Alliance should expect the French to opt only for the perquisites that support French national interests, and to defer selections that would add new--and costly--responsibilities: contributions to infrastructure funding; adherence to NATO planning requirements; meeting NATO training and readiness standards; and supporting NATO standardization, rationalization, and interoperability requirements.

If one accepts the proposition that French policy toward NATO has changed, it is advisable to examine the nature and extent of these changes. The fact that the Quai, traditionally the center of French diplomacy and security policy formulation, effectively has been marginalized in the process--and by the Chief of Staff of the armed forces no less--does not bode well for long-term continuity of policy developed and supported by Admiral Lanxade. Simply put, once Mitterrand and Lanxade pass from the scene (as Mitterrand soon will, with Lanxade likely to follow quickly thereafter), will their successors continue these policies or will the Quai reassert its traditional opposition to French participation in the military structure of the Alliance?

Encouragingly, Balladur, a strong candidate for the presidency, favors this fresh approach to NATO, as evinced in the White Paper. However, whether Balladur, Chirac, or Giscard d'Estaing wins the election, the new President may find it difficult to stray far from the course charted by Mitterrand. Given the political and security situation in Europe, there simply is little other choice.[54]

Thus, even with a surface change in policy, an understanding of the deeper currents of French attitudes toward these changes, particularly within the policy bureaucracy, takes on added importance. Given the past attitude toward NATO by the Quai (as well as by some officials in the Elysée), the absence of strong pressure from the President may allow recidivist officials in the Quai and Elysée to retard, if not sabotage, improvements in relations with NATO. That the Minister of Defense continues to be proscribed from attending NATO DPC meetings (much to the displeasure of Minister of Defense Léotard) underscores the continued institutional power the Foreign Office enjoys over the Defense Minister.[55] And disaffected officials need not openly assault policy to kill it; they can simply let it wither and die from neglect. So while Paris can be expected to support some new NATO initiatives and draw closer to the Alliance, one should also expect standard, time-worn rationales to be trotted out in opposition to others. Despite this qualified reconciliation, therefore, France will continue to befuddle NATO and remain a source of frustration within the Alliance.

So, while French policy toward NATO has changed, attitudes in critical parts of the French government remain unrepentant, largely for bureaucratic and domestic political reasons. Limited change, French demands that even these circumscribed revisions occur on French terms, and residual attitudes in key segments of the French policy bureaucracy emphasize the fact that in effect, if not in principle, France continues to follow a policy of enhanced selectivity when dealing with NATO, which could create as many problems as it solves.

Such an approach should not come as a surprise. Nations are expected to act in their own national interests and pursue policies that further those interests. To assume otherwise is imprudent. But recent French initiatives should be viewed positively. These initial, hesitant steps may eventually lead to fuller French participation in the Alliance; the United States and other NATO partners should encourage France to return to the fold.


The authors express their gratitude to Diego Ruiz Palmer, David Yost, Randy Shelton, Mark Morgan, and Pascalle Combelles for their constructive and insightful comments on earlier drafts of this article.

1. On the surface, the image of French policy is of French independence in defense and security affairs, while maintaining, in public, a distant relationship with NATO. The image and reality are not the same. Following France's ostensible divorce from NATO, Allied commanders and their French counterparts maintained close, if not intimate, working relationships. As Frédéric Bozo documented in his comprehensive study on this "secret" relationship, French independence from NATO has, indeed, been qualified to say the least. See, Frédéric Bozo, La France et l'OTAN; De la guerre froide au nouvel order européen (Paris: Masson, 1991). When considered with France's very close relationship with the United States, to include nuclear research and development cooperation, the French claim of having maintained defense independence has to be assessed with skepticism. Apropos nuclear cooperation see The Washington Post, 29 May 1989 and 2 June 1989.

2. See Michael M. Harrison, The Reluctant Ally: France and Atlantic Security (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1981), p. 118.

3. It should be mentioned that one of the reasons for the widespread support in France of tenets of Gaullist defense policy over time is because it encapsulates long-standing French defense traditions. See Diego Ruiz Palmer, "French Strategic Options in the 1990s," Adelphi Papers, No. 260 (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, Summer 1991), p. 3. For excellent historical background on the development of Gaullist security policy see Harrison, The Reluctant Ally, pp. 116-34.

4. For an excellent assessment of French strategy and force structure see David S. Yost, "France," in The Defense Policies of Nations: A Comparative Study (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1994), pp. 233-77.

5. Pierre Lellouche, "France in Search of Security," Foreign Affairs, 72 (Spring 1993), 122. Lellouche is the foreign affairs counsellor to Jacques Chirac, leader of the RPR political party.

6. See Frankfurter Allgemeine, 19 July 1990. For an excellent historical perspective on this important bilateral relationship see Julius W. Friend, The Linchpin: French-German Relations, 1950-1990, The Washington Papers No. 154, The Center for Strategic and International Studies (New York: Praeger, 1991).

7. See Anne-Marie Le Gloannec, "The Implications of German Unification for Western Europe" in The New Germany and the New Europe, ed. Paul B. Stares (Washington: Brookings Institution, 1992), p. 266. "Deeper" integration implies developing a common currency and common political, social, and other programs throughout the EU.

8. The Visegrad states include Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.

9. See Lellouche, p. 128.

10. David Yost, "Mitterrand and Defense and Security Policy," French Politics and Society, 9 (Summer-Fall 1991), 146-47.

11. See Agence France-Presse (Paris), 5 May 1994 in Foreign Broadcast Information Service, FBIS-WEU-94-088, 6 May 1994, p. 26.

12. It is interesting to note that François Mitterrand was for many years de Gaulle's most determined critic, leading the Socialist Party in rejecting de Gaulle's defense policy. Yet, upon taking power in 1981, Mitterrand and the Socialists continued to support the tenets of that policy. For an excellent treatment of this issue, see Philip H. Gordon, A Certain Idea of France: French Security Policy and the Gaullist Legacy (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1993), pp. 106-18.

13. See Harrison, The Reluctant Ally, pp. 118-19.

14. In effect, DAS has become the policy cloister in the ministry, which has brought it into conflict, at times, with the Etat-Major des Armées (Joint Staff).

15. For background on this period see Gordon, A Certain Idea of France, pp. 144-57.

16. Indeed, some in his own party have complained that Mitterrand has done this at the expense of destroying politically his successor as leader of the party, Michel Rocard, and in effect, the Socialist Party itself. See The Washington Post, 23 June 1994.

17. See Livre Blanc sur la Défense, Paris, Ministère de la Défense, 1994. Note that another key reason for producing this document was to demonstrate, no matter how illusory, the continuation of bipartisan cooperation in the area of defense.

18. For an excellent assessment of French policy toward the Yugoslav conflict, see Pia Christina Wood, "France and the Post Cold War Order: The Case of Yugoslavia," European Security, 3 (Spring 1994), 129-52.

19. David Buchan, "Paris makes European security ambitions clear," London Financial Times, 24 February 1994, p. 2.

20. See Le Quotidien de Paris, 12-13 February 1994.

21. See, for example, David Buchan's commentary on recent policy formulations in his article, "Paris makes European security ambitions clear," p. 2.

22. Daniel Vernet, "The Dilemmas of French Foreign Policy," International Affairs, 68 (No. 4, 1992), 661.

23. See Buchan, "Paris makes European security ambitions clear," for an example of the current period of cohabitation.

24. See David Yost, "France and the Gulf War of 1990-1991: Political-Military Lessons Learned," The Journal of Strategic Studies, 16 (September 1993), 339-74. The evaluation of Jacques Baumel (former foreign minister and current RPR deputy) of the French security environment bolsters Yost's assessment. See Le Monde (Paris), 1 April 1993, p. 2.

25. Yost, "France and the Gulf War," p. 354.

26. The NATO treaty establishes the Alliance as a collective defense organization--i.e., nations bound together to defend themselves from outside aggression. Since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, some have attempted to use the consultative provisions contained in Article IV of the treaty as a justification for increased emphasis on NATO as an agent of reliance on collective security (i.e., maintaining peace and stability among the members of the organization) missions such as peacekeeping or peace enforcement. See Articles IV and V of the Washington Treaty, which can be found in NATO, Facts and Figures (Brussels: NATO Information Service, 1989), Appendix 1, Document 2.

27. This particular policy was seen in Paris's opposition to the German-US initiative to create the North Atlantic Cooperation Council within NATO, and France's spurring the European Community to mediate the growing conflict in Yugoslavia. François Heisbourg, former Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and current vice president of Matra Corporation, argues that the French intended to use these initiatives to destroy NATO. See François Heisbourg, "A French View: Developing a European Identity," The Officer, January 1993, p. 31.

28. See Le Monde (Paris), 19 March 1991.

29. Joxe was particularly upset because he could not attend meetings of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, to which only France in the Alliance did not send a representative. See Le Monde (Paris), 30 September 1992.

30. NATO Press Communique M-NAC-1(92)51, Brussels, NATO Press Service, 4 June 1992, p. 4.

31. For details of Deny Flight see Allied Forces Southern Europe, "Fact Sheet--OPERATION DENY FLIGHT," Naples, 24 March 1994. For details of Operation Sharp Guard see Allied Forces Southern Europe, "Fact Sheet--NATO/WEU OPERATIONAL SHARP GUARD," Naples, 7 July 1994. Interestingly, to account for French sensitivities, Operation Sharp Guard is carried out under the authority of the Councils of NATO and WEU.

32. A sympathetic view would hold that French officials value too highly the Alliance's collective defense provisions to allow NATO to be damaged by participating in politically sensitive collective security operations. A less charitable interpretation holds that following the all-but-debacle by the European Community in the former Yugoslavia, France realized that the only way the United States would actively deal with these crises was through NATO, and therefore Paris had no other choice.

33. See Le Monde (Paris), 14 May 1993.

34. See Le Monde (Paris), 21 December 1993.

35. See Livre Blanc sur la Défense, p. 37.

36. "Les évolutions intervenues depuis 1991 dans l'organisation et les activités de l'Alliance doivent être prolongées et amplifiées," Livre Blanc sur la Défense, p. 35.

37. For a persuasive argument for France to take a more pragmatic view toward participating in the DPC see Bozo, La France et l'OTAN, pp. 206-07.

38. See ibid., pp. 101-04; and, Diego Ruiz Palmer, "France," in European Security Policy After the Revolutions of 1989, ed. Jeffrey Simon (Washington: National Defense Univ. Press, 1991), p. 232.

39. For an excellent description and analysis of the Eurocorps, see Rafael Estrella, "After the NATO Summit: New Structures and Modalities for Military Co-operation," Draft General Report AL 76 DSC(94) 2, Brussels, North Atlantic Assembly, May 1994, pp. 7-12.

40. See for example, Jeane Kirkpatrick's essay, "Is France Trying to Torpedo NATO?" CQ Researcher, 21 August 1992, p. 729.

41. See ADN (Berlin), 28 November 1992, in FBIS-WEU-92-230, 30 November 1992, p. 1; and Le Monde, 12 March 1993, in FBIS-WEU-93-057, 26 March 1993, p. 2.

42. See Daniel Vernet's excellent article in Le Monde (Paris), 12 March 1993; Le Monde (Paris), 7 May 1993; Karl Feldmeyer's essay in, Frankfurter Allgemeine, 5 December 1992; and The New York Times, 1 December 1992.

43. For example, French forces should be subject to NATO training and readiness requirements. They also must be capable of operating with NATO forces, thus obligating the French to ensure adequate interoperability, standardization, and rationalization between their forces and NATO logistics and support activities.

44. See Press Communique M-1(94)3, Brussels, NATO Press Service, 11 January 1994. For details of the Partnership for Peace program see, Press Communique M-1(94)2, Partnership for Peace: Invitation, Brussels, NATO Press Service, 10 January 1994. A solid description and analysis of Combined Joint Task Forces can be found in Stanley R. Sloan, "Combined Joint task Forces (CJTF) and New Missions for NATO," CRS Report for Congress, 94-249S, 17 March 1994.

45. For an excellent and insightful assessment of this debate, see Bruce George, "After the NATO Summit," Draft General Report, AL 88 PC(94) 2, Brussels, North Atlantic Assembly, May 1994, pp. 4-5.

46. The late NATO Secretary-General Manfred Wörner stated that CJTF should enhance French participation in NATO military activities without its complete reintegration. See Le Monde (Paris), 16 December 1993.

47. For details see Press Release M-NAC-1(94)45, "Alliance Policy Framework on Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction," Brussels, NATO Press Service, 9 June 1994.

48. See George, "After the NATO Summit," p. 6.

49. See The Economist (London), 3 October 1992, p. 34. The numerous experiences of former Minister of Defense Pierre Joxe (Le Monde [Paris], 10-11 November 1991; Le Monde [Paris], 30 September 1992; and Le Monde, 4 December 1992), as well as the late Prime Minister Pierre Bérégovoy (Le Monde [Paris], 6-7 September 1992), commenting on new policy initiatives toward NATO and subsequent governmental denials, are good cases in point.

50. This is not intended to disparage the efforts of former Minister of Defense Pierre Joxe to realign France's NATO policy. Before cohabitation he contributed significantly.

51. See The Baltimore Sun, 16 January 1994.

52. Of the many examples, see particularly, Le Quotidien de Paris, 20 December 1993, in FBIS-WEU-93-242, 20 December 1993, p. 35; Liberation (Paris), 24 February 1994, in FBIS-WEU-94-037, p. 35; and Agence France-Presse (Paris) 5 May 1994, in FBIS-WEU-94-088, 6 May 1994, p. 26.

53. See Liberation (Paris), 24 February 1994, in FBIS-WEU-94-037, 24 February 1994, pp. 28-30.

54. Interestingly, according to French defense expert Olivier Debouzy, it was during the presidency of Giscard d'Estaing, a Gaullist and not during Mitterrand's "watch," that the most far-reaching conceptual and doctrinal changes in Gaullist defense policy took place. Cf., Debouzy's book review of Gordon, A Certain Idea of France in, Survival, 36 (Spring 1994), 186.

55. See Le Monde (Paris), 21 December 1993.

Lieutenant Colonel William T. Johnsen has been a Strategic Research Analyst at the Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, since 1991 and was appointed to the Elihu Root Chair of Military Studies in 1994. He has served in command and staff assignments in the 25th Infantry Division and 7th Infantry Division (Light), taught history at the US Military Academy, and was an arms control analyst at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe. He is a graduate of the US Military Academy and the US Army War College and holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Duke University.

Thomas-Durell Young has held the Henry L. Stimson Chair of Military Studies at the Strategic Studies Institute since 1992. From 1988 to 1992 he was a national security affairs analyst at the Institute. Previously he was a country risk analyst for BERI, S.A., a Swiss-based consulting firm. Dr. Young received his Ph.D. from the Graduate Institute of International Studies, University of Geneva, Switzerland, and is a 1990 graduate of the US Army War College. He has published extensively on US alliance issues, with particular emphasis on Western Europe and the Southwest Pacific.

Reviewed 9 May 1997. Please send comments or corrections to