by Dorothee Fouchaux
American Enterprise Institute
February 10, 2014
National Security Outlook
Since Charles de Gaulle’s presidency, France has maintained a tradition of thinking strategically for itself—often, to the aggravation of its allies. This tradition remains strong and has been reinforced by the sense that the United States is pivoting away from Europe. With its latest defense white paper, Paris has laid out a program to maintain its “strategic autonomy” through a combination of nuclear deterrence, enhanced intelligence efforts, and discrete power-projection capabilities. But France faces flat defense budgets, the increased cost of its military interventions in Africa, and prospects that budget shortfalls will not be overcome by the sale of public shares of national defense companies or export sales of military hardware. Consequently, some doubt that an even smaller French force will have sufficient resources to address existing problems in readiness and needed capabilities while sustaining a sufficient defense research-and-development base.

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