Humanity's Soldier: France and International Security, 1919-2001

Humanity's Soldier: France and International Security, 1919-2001

Humanity's Soldier: France and International Security, 1919-2001

Humanity's Soldier: France and International Security, 1919-2001

Synopsis

The aim of this series is to offer significant insights into the evolution of French politics & society in the 20th century, with particular emphasis on the postwar period. It will explore broad issues of social & political culture in contemporary France.

Excerpt

This book ranges rather more widely among disciplines, including literature and philosophy, than is common in studies of defence and security. This is partly because -- as anyone with experience inside politics and government will have noted -- the influences that come to bear on government decision-making and the presentation of policy are by no means limited to official documents and correspondence, valuable (invaluable, indeed), as those may be to the researcher. Ministers, politicians, diplomats, civil servants and the military in every country all carry intellectual baggage of a very varied nature, and are called upon to respond to a public and to a media that often express concerns that have arisen on the basis of an amalgam of memories, prejudices and received wisdom. This amalgam typically consists of a jumble of somewhat simplified history, half-remembered statistics, TV programmes and cinema films, family memories, books read long ago and prejudices so deeply ingrained that the holder takes them to be simple common sense.

Because a government that is consistently ahead of or behind public opinion will face difficulties, there are inevitable practical limits on what governments can do. Very often, these public attitudes are uninformed, but they may be powerfully supported in the media and elsewhere, and they make up a significant part of the unspoken assumptions that experts themselves bring to their work. In the defence and security area, there is, beyond the strategy elaborated by experts, an unofficial meta-strategy elaborated by non-experts; a complex of ideas, memories and associations that sets the boundaries within which a government can work. Often . . .

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