Sunday, September 16, 2007

France soon back to full NATO's membership?

The relationship between France and NATO mirrors that of the Ga(u)llic nation (pun intended) and the United-States.
It is during De Gaulle's presidency that France pulled out of NATO when French president accused the United States of having a hegemonic role in the organization and too much of what what he (rightfully)perceived as a special relationship with the United Kingdom.

Then, France initiated its independent nuclear deterrence program which became known as its "Force de frappe" ("Striking force"), a pillar of its military doctrine.

While France has shown solidarity with NATO on many occasions (like during the missile crisis in 1962) and has remained in the alliance. It even rejoined NATO's Military Committee in 1995 but France has not yet rejoined the integrated military command and no non-French NATO troops are allowed to be based on its land.

This could change under Sarkozy, at least according to this Herald Tribune article this week:

NATO is ready to discuss bringing France back fully into the fold after signals from Paris that it may reverse its decision 41 years ago to withdraw from the alliance's military structures, officials said Thursday.

Alliance diplomats note France has just taken the command of the 16,000-strong NATO-led peace force in Kosovo and has in the past played a command role in its larger Afghan peacekeeping operation.

France could seek assurances from allies - not just the United States but more Atlanticist countries ranging from Britain to Poland - that efforts to build a proper EU defense capability would not suffer as a result of it rejoining NATO.

Well, “rapprochement” is a French word after all….

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