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France s “return” to NATO: false reasons and true consequences

La Lettre Sentinel n°51, avril 2009 - 08 avril, 2009
Article
Hajnalka Vincze

Hailed (or intensely disparaged, it depends) as a "return to the fold", would the reintegration by France of the integrated military structures end up exploding the Alliance? The question is paradoxical only in appearance.

Going counter to current geopolitical trends, based on arguments whose emptiness will be manifest in broad daylight even before one starts to change the signboards of the offices and reprint the visiting cards, the announced decision is, above all, perceived and interpreted in a diametrically opposite manner by the protagonists. Hence the contradictory, if not incompatible, expectations on the two sides. In Paris, the "movement towards NATO" is sometimes presented as a magnanimous gesture for which they are entitled to set conditions and expect rewards, sometimes trivialized as a mere "normalization", an almost mechanical exercise, but one which, curiously, would nonetheless ensure exactly the same benefits to France. In any event, the French hope, by a reasoning as tortuous as it is erroneous, to be better listened to, i.e. to have more success in asserting France’s original positions. In sum, to have more influence when promoting their conceptions still guided, it is said, by the same spirit of independence. For Washington and Atlanticist capitals in Europe, the equation seems much clearer: France simply falls in line. True to its reputation as an enthusiastic pro-American, President Sarkozy would have made a terrific gesture of alignment, after which Paris would pour into the NATO mould - in other words, France too would stand in line behind the United States. On both sides, one takes their dreams for reality. These dreams being irreconcilable with each other, the wake-up can be expected to be even more instructive.

Full text in French.


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