For France, this week’s geopolitical drama-the sale of Australia’s knocked submarines, and its outrageous response to the U.S. deal চুক্ত includes an issue that the once-powerful nation has been fighting for decades: how to claim itself as an independent power. Which French leaders see as essential, when they know France maintains a dependent alliance.
The dilemma between independence and dependence since World War II has animated and alienated France’s strategy of reconciliation.
Although Americans sometimes view French will as futility or a desire to restore long-lost imperial pride, French leaders are deeply aware that they are leading a medium-sized power in a world influenced by the wider.
The planned submarine sale follows a long line of calibrated steps to project French power, maintaining the country’s ability to manage its own destiny, while uniting with allies, whose help Paris knows, maliciously, to stand on its own.
But losing the contract highlights the difficulty of achieving both. The reaction from France was the same. Withdrawal of its ambassador to Washington meant that it was not even afraid to stand up to allies. At the same time, in seeking European support against American betrayal, Paris has shown that it feels compelled to seek support even beyond that.
“To the French, independence always means autonomy,” said Bruno Tertrais, deputy director of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research.
“But it has never been 100% independent. The important thing is that it is 99 percent independent.
Why French leaders think they have to try anyway and the history behind the challenges they have faced since then, both this week’s events have made Paris so excited.
An independent streak
The war and its aftermath, which divided Europe between American and Soviet forces and saw Washington impose new pressure on its current junior allies, many of whom also occupied militarily, led the French to believe that one of the many Americans led the future. , As were the British and West Germans, means subjugation.
With the advent of the nuclear age, with the threat of its complete destruction, the French believed that they had to secure their own way in the world, even if it sometimes annoyed the allies who had to do it.
From 1 Charles 59 to 19, President Charles de Gaulle sought Washington’s help in consolidating Western Europe against the Soviets. But he also undermined US influence at every turn, preferring to claim French leadership instead.
He oversaw the rise of France as a nuclear power, drove American troops out of France, He withdrew from NATO and tried to persuade West Germany to sever ties with the same alliance.
The historian John Lewis Gaddis wrote, “What he did in anticipation of the continued protection of the NATO alliance only angered the Americans.”
In 1967, de Gaulle produced a report exploring a nuclear strategy called “defense in all directions” capable of “intervening anywhere in the world.” It was a bold statement of global ambition, built on completely self-contained resistance.
But in reality, France’s nuclear stance was at the same time “national” – designed to deter the Soviets without outside help – and brutally “recognized,” Decreed acknowledged the relationship between American deterrent and the French, according to Philip H. Wrote.
Nuclear strikes were designed to support an expected American intervention and to force it to escalate if necessary – as well as a fitting summary of France’s ambition to support, act and force Americans.
It is a more complex formula than independence: it acknowledges and even exploits dependence on the United States. And this is a pattern that France has followed ever since, no less a sense of partnership of existence, through this week’s events.
As the era of nuclear stagnation faded, France shifted to more contemporary equipment. It uses the UN Security Council seat to act as a diplomatic ally of the major powers. It sends peacekeepers to global hot spots. And it sells sophisticated weapons abroad.
Bipin Narang, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said:
Referring to new nuclear states like Israel and India, he added, “During the Cold War, their fingerprints were on every country of concern.”
Arms exports bring France into direct military relations with strategically established states and independent think tanks, especially in Asia, including India and Vietnam.
French President Emmanuel Macron has sought a more supportive approach than de Gaulle. Although he has signed an EU trade agreement with China, he has otherwise joined US-led pressure to control it, creating pressure within Europe and supplying arms to like-minded countries abroad.
“From our point of view, we have tried to build an autonomous but disconnected contribution to security in the Indo-Pacific Ocean through the submarine agreement,” he said. Tertris said. “It was meant to be a positive contribution by two moderate forces to a common agenda.”
But Mr. Macron has maintained that independent continuity, for example, by taking on regional military responsibilities from the Washington-led NATO to the European Union.
And France has learned that Washington is not above working independently.
“The French have been ruthless in their arms deals in the past,” he said. Narang said. When he realized the anger of Paris, he added, “When someone else plays this same game, the French get annoyed.”
Withdrawing the French ambassador may seem like a diplomatic joke. But it follows the same long-term strategy. As De Gaulle argues, some things are willing to demand independent interests from Washington, like a diplomatic thumbs up in the eyes of Americans.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has called for a widespread response, telling a French news station that European countries must be united in defending their common interests, even from the Americans.
But Mr. Macron is still struggling to deal a major blow against the Americans.
It raises the challenge in its 21st-century golism update: building a unified Europe that can stand on par with the United States or China. It was meant to bring France as an unofficial leader, a vehicle for his ambitions and, for all Europe, to escape American domination.
“France’s question is a big one: they want these countries to see it and America is not their protector,” said Ben Judah, a British-French analyst at the Atlantic Council. Tweeted.
And this mission is complicated by the same independent continuity and global ambition that inspired it in the first place. For example, the French insistence on Russia’s accession to Russia as an auxiliary power and member of the UN Security Council ranks European states and lowers expectations.
“It’s very difficult to resolve this tension,” Mr. Tertris admitted. “I’m not sure it can be fixed.”
As much as last week, Europe’s muted response to France’s unity is a reminder that the conflict between France’s dependent-but-independent, European-but-global, first-of-its-kind strategies will inevitably erupt.
The fight to manage those conflicts anyway is not new for Paris or Washington.
In 1992, French political scientist Mr. Gordon wrote that the conflicts in the First Gulf War showed “the limits of his supposed independence.”
Both capitals moved on to seek greater coordination on global issues, if only for their shared values and agendas.
But it will not be possible to do so unless “both sides deviate from the path of reassuring each other,” Mr. Gordon, who is exploring just how difficult it can be in his current job as deputy national security adviser at the White House. .