The Bases of French Peace Operations Doctrine: Problematical Scope of France's Military Engagements within the U.N. or NATO Framework

  • September 01, 2002
  • Mr Joseph Philippe Gregoire

France believes that external threats to its vital and important interests spring more from potential instability on the periphery of Europe than from rival European powers. France has modified its military doctrine to reflect this strategic calculus, and France's conception of peace operations reflects this doctrinal change. France's revision of its peacekeeping doctrine has led or lagged its NATO partners' evolution in thinking, but doctrinal convergence is evident. A meeting of minds has come about because developments that jeopardize France's security are likely to affect that of its key allies as well. France has taken steps to defend its interests within a United Nations or North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) framework, through the application of force if necessary. NATO political leaders now have cause collectively to play a greater role in North Atlantic Treaty deliberations than they had during the Cold War. Defending Western interests in the face of amorphous threats calls for unity of effort and clarity of purpose. If France's comparative advantage lies in the use of force for peacekeeping and associated operations, the Alliance may want to institutionalize this fact via an appropriate mechanism.