Saturday, March 28, 2009

France to rejoin NATO militarily

It seems French President Sarkozy wants France’s full “reintegration” into the military command structure of NATO, after an absence of more than 40 years:

France in NATO: Why It Matters
[...] Indeed, Sarkozy’s main argument for rejoining NATO is that, given its current level of engagement, France must have a voice at the top in order to defend its own interests. In recent years, France has gradually rejoined the political and operational elements of the Alliance; it now sits on 36 of NATO’s 38 committees. But it has remained absent from the permanent military command structure, which means that it does not participate in the strategic planning that goes into operational deployments. Sarkozy says this must change.

But Sarkozy also has other motives for reaching out to NATO. Full membership of the Alliance will, for example, enhance French military interoperability with the United States and other NATO allies, thereby contributing to the badly needed modernization of French forces. Moreover, Sarkozy hopes that full NATO membership will provide the French defense industry with access to the mammoth US defense procurement market, which accounts for almost half of global defense expenditures.


Sarkozy has won some important concessions from the United States, one of them being that Washington drop its opposition to ESDP as a quid pro quo for France’s rejoining NATO. At the 45th Munich Security Conference in February, US Vice President Joe Biden declared that America would “warmly welcome” France’s full return to NATO and added that “we also support the further strengthening of European defense” and an “increased role for the European Union in preserving peace and security.”

The Americans have also given in to Sarkozy’s demands for a more prominent French role in the Alliance. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that France would take over leadership of Allied Command Transformation, a key NATO command post in Norfolk, Virginia, where the alliance’s long-term strategy is discussed. France will also lead the Allied Joint Command Lisbon, which is responsible for NATO’s Rapid Reaction Force and its satellite reconnaissance system.

But France’s return to NATO also has the potential to increase tensions with the United States and other NATO members like Britain. For example, French Defense Minister Hervé Morin says that France rejects a global role for NATO and that the Alliance should remain Eurocentric. He also says that Russia should be consulted before the alliance expands any further. Those positions could put France on a collision course with the White House, which has bigger plans for NATO and has criticized France and Germany for their deference to Russia on questions of European security. [...]

The rest of the article also gives many possible reasons the French may want this, with embedded links. When France achieves a majority Muslim population in 15 years time, it will be interesting to see how the alliance holds up, and what they will do with all the military technology and knowledge they will have gained from us.

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