I am delighted to share with you my new book chapter entitled ‘French Military Strategy under Macron’, published in a huge volume (24 chapters, 580 pages) entitled Military Strategy in the Twenty-First Century. The Challenge for NATO co-edited by Janne Haaland Matlary (University of Oslo) and Robert Johnson (University of Oxford).
Faure’s chapter sets out France’s military strategy under Macron which is not confined either to NATO doctrine or to Europe’s collective defence. In line with his predecessors, Macron has championed a deterrence strategy and a military alliance strategy. The deterrence strategy is rendered credible by the possession of nuclear weapons. France also benefits from having the world’s fifth largest defence budget – bigger than those of Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany – and a presidential system of government that allows the head of state to decide rapidly to use force if the strategic situation demands it. This deterrence strategy is combined with a military alliance strategy that is based on two pillars: NATO and European strategic autonomy. NATO is seen by Macron as militarily useful to safeguard Europe’s collective security vis-à-vis Russia, thanks to the interoperability of the armed forces. However, NATO is also considered ill-suited to combating the threat of terrorism, which is, moreover, growing as the United States realigns its strategic priorities towards Asia. The French head of state is using this political background to champion the goal of European strategic autonomy, which is presented as complementing NATO. To attain this goal, Macron supports both initiatives within the European Union (PESCO, EDF, and the Directorate-General for Internal Market) and outside it (EI2), as well as bilateral strategic relations, especially with Germany and Russia. The initiatives taken by Macron to further European strategic autonomy and a strategic dialogue with Russia have met with scepticism and mistrust in Europe, because France’s European allies see them as a destabilising factor for collective security. In the 21st century, as in the 20th, France remains a challenge for NATO – and vice versa.