The French Strategy In Africa:France’s Role On The Continent & Its Implications For American Foreign Policy
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In the post-World War II era, the nature of military interventions by traditional powers has changed dramatically due to changes in political priorities and the kinds of conflicts emerging in the world. Especially in the case of the French, national security interests and the decision-making process for engaging in foreign interventions has diverged significantly from the previous era and the modern American format. France has a long history of intervention on the African continent due in part to its colonial history, but also because of its modern economic and security interests there. The aim of this thesis is to articulate a framework for describing French strategy in the region and its implications for American foreign policy decisions. Contrary to the pattern of heavy-footprint, nation building interventions by the United States during this time period, the French format can instead be characterized by the rapid deployment of light forces in the attempt to successfully achieve immediate, but moderate objectives. French policy regarding Africa is based on the principles of strategic autonomy, the maintenancetheir status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and the ‘Europeanization’ of future initiatives. In order to achieve these objectives, France has pursued a foreign policy designed to allow flexibility and selectivity in choosing whether to intervene and to maintain the relative balance of power within their sphere of influence with itself as the regional stabilizer. This will require a high frequency of interventions, at least in the short-to medium-term period, and means that the United States will be able to take a secondary role in the region, allowing the French to both intervene independently and to lead multinational coalitions on the continent.