The Atlantic Alliance : reflections on French ‘standardization’

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In summer 2007, under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, France started to « standardize » its relation with NATO, that it so say it joined the Atlantic alliance’s integrated military command in 2009. This major political choice represented a departure from de Gaulle’s decision in 1966, which had been intended to reassert national independence while maintaining transatlantic union in the specific context of the Cold War. This policy served its purpose up to the nineties but soon became hard to justify given the Atlantic Alliance’s renewal. Hence the standardization : France must secure an active role within NATO and allow the European security to evolve. The relationship between the EU and the US has also changed, since the Alliance is now no longer a main issue for Americans. Most of all, this standardization was launched for structural reasons: the Alliance redefined its strategy, mostly since the crises in Kosovo, Afghanistan or even Iraq. It thus became Gaullist, i.e. an « institutionalized modularity » offering a military and political framework that adapted itself to circumstances. The result of this re-entry might be seen as satisfying – France will be on a with Great Britain and the highest commandment – but it leaves out certain questions about the evolution of the European project or France’s influence on NATO decisions.