France and the Idea of Strategic Defense: Technolgy, Politics and Doctrine

By Dinerman, Taylor | The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview

France and the Idea of Strategic Defense: Technolgy, Politics and Doctrine


Dinerman, Taylor, The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies


France has been extremely hostile to the idea of U.S. defense against ballistic missiles, yet France at the height of its power was sheltered behind a complex and effective multilayered defense system. The desire to see the value of its nuclear investment presented is one of the major motivating factors behind current French policy. Yet the world is changing and perhaps French policy may change with it. Key Words: French Strategic Policy, French Military History, Ballistic Missile Defense, Nuclear Strategy, NATO, Military Technology, European Defense Policy. Antimissile weapons, French-U.S. Relations.

Over the next few years France and the United States of America face two apparently separate but actually interrelated problems. First of all how the new European Defense Identity will relate to NATO and to the U.S.'? Is it to be hostile to America, will it drag the E.U. into a cold war type confrontation with the "American Hyperpower"? Secondly, how will Europe in general, and France in particular, react to the New American consensus on missile defense? In spite of distrust and considerable anguish in liberal quarters over the fate of the much violated ABM treaty, America is moving inexorably towards equipping itself with the ability to shoot down at least some incoming missiles.

The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) launched by Ronald Reagan in 1983 produced enough knowledge so that the U.S. Government now has an excellent idea of what works and what does not. The old arguments from the arms controllers have been devalued in the face of mounting and irrefutable evidence that the USSR cheated massively on almost every Arms Control agreement they signed. Defending the American homeland against missile attack is today accepted in the U.S. as a perfectly respectable idea: Academic conventional wisdom opposing ballistic missile defense is now on the losing end of policy debate; it dominated policy in the 1970s, and fought a successful delaying action against Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative in the 1980s, but has lost its influence in the 1990s. Even Bill Clinton - who populated his foreign policy team with liberals and arms controllers who would fall on their swords to save the ABM treaty - has accepted that the United States should deploy missile defenses."1

From the French point of view Strategic Defense has an apparently mixed record. The so-called failure of the Maginot Line in 1940 was a failure of strategic operational doctrine more than anything else. Over the years, France has done rather well using balanced, multilayered systems of offense and defense. Indeed the years of France's greatest geopolitical power in the 18th century where those when it used the flexible defensive system of Fortresses and fortified towns designed by Vauban.

It was Louis XIV (1643-1715) who effectively fortified the frontiers of the kingdom. Responsible for this program, was the greatest military engineer of the age the Lord of Vauban. During years of almost ceaseless travel along the muddy roads of late seventeenth century France, Vauban built what came to be known as the ceinture de fer, a multilayer system of fortified town and fortresses that roughly defined the borders of France, today's "Hexagone." This comprised a line of frontier forts backed up by a support line which in turn was backed by the King's field armies, which were themselves backed up by the leftover medieval militia system of Le Ban etl'arriere-Ban, giving France a level of military security unmatched by any other continental power.

Behind this protective cover France thrived as the greatest of the European nations. In spite of defeats, bankruptcy and revolution, no foreign power or powers were able to successfully invade the heart of France until in 1813, exhausted and bled dry by Napoleon and his wars (1804-1814), particularly by his failed 1812 invasion of Russia, a coalition that included Prussia, Austria, Russia and Britain, occupied Paris and restored the House of Bourbon. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

France and the Idea of Strategic Defense: Technolgy, Politics and Doctrine
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.