Alliance Paris – London - Washington as the basis for multilateral cooperation in French
Material posted: Publication date: 10-04-2020
The Alliance with London and Washington is the main line of force of France's foreign policy. It originates at the end of the First World war: France entered this conflict in the ranks of the Triple Entente and came out of it with the prerequisites to the Atlantic Alliance.

This geopolitical fracture was accompanied by an ideological convergence, because the three main liberal democracy had intended to use the status of the winner to build an international order based on the principle of collective security. Despite the failure of the League of Nations (1920-1946) and the rivalry between the three countries in the middle East, one of the constants of French politics was the pursuit of the British and American support to counter the German threat in the period between the two wars and the Soviet Union during the cold war.

During the cold war, French geopolitics was based on the principle of "double security": the elimination of the threat in Germany through its division, with the support of the USSR; the neutralization of the danger from the Soviet Union through the construction of Western Europe under French leadership with U.S. security guarantees [1].

In June 1958 at its first Council of defence, General de Gaulle said that France along with the United States and the United Kingdom should be allowed to participate in the development of global, including nuclear strategy of the Alliance. On these grounds he addresses Eisenhower and Macmillan's famous Memorandum of September 1958 [2], simultaneously speeding up a military nuclear program (the first test in February 1960). A nuclear weapon allows you to preserve the national territory, but does not mean a renunciation of the international. Thanks DOM-TOM, defence agreements with the independent African countries, missions in the framework of NATO and the headquarters of the Security Council in Paris to replace its overseas Empire global radiation possibilities.

The fall of the USSR resulted in a reassessment of the strategic context, is formalized with the White paper on defense and national security, 1994, which is devoted to the construction of Europe, to the assistance of the United Nations, the progress of international law, supporting peace operations and initiatives in the area of disarmament [3]. In the 1990s, France has been particularly active in discussions on the peacekeeping operations (PKO) under the United Nations. Paris makes a post of the head of the Department of OPM, which since 1997 is a a French diplomat, the priority of their strategy of influence in the UN. However, since the beginning of 2000-ies of the French human and financial participation in PKOs has been steadily declining.

It is in this context Dominique de Villepin in February 2003 have opposed a preventive war, embodied in legalized Washington doctrine after September 11, 2001, together with Berlin and Moscow. In the framework of the Alliance with London and Washington, this leads to intense Franco-American confrontation, fueled from the French desire to create a sovereign Europe in the name of the multipolar world. In fact, the position of France remained purely declarative.

The confrontation of Paris lasted a quarter of a century. After that, French authorities continued to restore communication within the Alliance, including the decision in 2009 on NATO. Paradoxically, this crisis has led to the establishment of closer military relations between Paris, London and Washington (Afghanistan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iran or Mali). Thus, France was involved in operations in Afghanistan in the name of Western solidarity. There were 70,000 troops, but, as admitted by the General of Castres in 2014 "in Afghanistan, our contributions will never allow us to influence strategically" [4].

French diplomacy was seen in the intervention in Iraq in 2003, the case of the traditional U.S. unilateralism. Fifteen years later she realizes that it was nothing compared to some of the decisions of the administration trump. This leads to two observations of the connection between the triple Alliance and military tool.

First, it would seem that the larger becomes the foreign policy of France, the more valuable nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. This, of course, should lead to rethinking the role of nuclear instrument and not to additional discussions about the importance of the two components (naval and air), but rather to open reflection on the consequences of the entry into the next nuclear age, which is characterized by the occurrence of a double phenomenon: the emergence of new nuclear players (North Korea, Iran) and the revision of the doctrines of the traditional powers (the US, China and Russia), which become less transparent.

Second, French diplomacy appears to be, the need to change its analytical software: it works on the creation of a multipolar world as using a realistic approach (change of global power in favor of emerging), and ideological (the call of unipolarity USA), believing that this will be accompanied by a strengthening of multilateralism.

At the same time, and this is the initial conclusion of the strategic review of the national defence and security 2017 [5], the versatility of directly weakened, different, behavior, the three permanent members of the Security Council: Russia, China and the United States. Therefore, French diplomacy is unlikely to be able to save on a double revision: the revision of the functioning of the security Council, including blocked multiple veto – especially from Russia and the revision of the Alliance. Paris must foresee the consequences of Brexit and leadership of Donald trump. Thirdly, the results of military interventions, mostly designed and conducted within the framework of the Alliance, "caused doubts about the effectiveness of the use of the military instrument in response to external crises" [4].

In addition to strategic deterrence and covert operations, the question is what operation France will really be able to spend completely independently, i.e. without any logistical or intelligence aid to the allies. Not that this question should be considered as a desirable model of intervention, but rather as a way to accurately assess their own capacity French military instrument and thus demonstrate his equally important ability to work in a coalition.

Natalia Pokrovskaya


The list of used sources and literature

  1. -H. Soutou. La guerre froide de la France 1941-1990. Paris Based, 2018. P. 14.
  2. Letter and memorandum from General de Gaulle to General Eisenhower. 17 September 1958. Reimposta:
  3. Livre blanc sur la defense et la securite nationale. Mode of access:
  4. Chauveau et Gaymard. Rapport d'information No. 2777. 2015.
    30. Mode of access:
  5. La Revue stratégique de défense et de sécurité nationale de 2017.

Tags: assessment , Europe