Thursday, March 5, 2009

French Political Science Blog

A new French political science blog. Check it out. It looks very promising indeed.

Ganging Up

Looks like Villepin and Juppé are joining Védrine in opposing France's rejoining of NATO (see previous post). Have they found Sarko's Achilles' heel?

Védrine Says No to NATO

Hubert Védrine, who was reportedly under consideration for the foreign minister's job before Kouchner was named, has broken with Sarkozy on the question of France's rejoining NATO. Why? The classic reasons: France needs to maintain its independence, there is good reason to be wary of American intentions (e.g., with respect to the construction of a missile shield against either Iran or the Russians, take your pick), the lack of appetite in Europe for a common European defense, the loss of control of one's own destiny that goes with the binding commitment of Article 5. In some respects, Védrine's argument sounds like an American neoconservative's denunciation of Europe's "Venusian" attitude compared with virile America's more "Martial" stance. He seems as wary of his fellow Europeans as he is of France's potentially perfidious allies from outre-Atlantique. This is a troubling indication that the various dissensions that rippled through Europe during Sarkozy's presidency of the Union may have been mere surface manifestations of deeper subterranean rumblings. And the economic crisis has only made matters worse.

Oddly, Védrine takes no account of the effects of the crisis on Russia, whose presence, largely unanalyzed, nevertheless looms in the background, as it must in any discussion of NATO. Economically, Russia has been hit hard. On the one hand, this weakness limits its room for maneuver. On the other hand, it may make the Russians more desperate to seek political/military advantage if the money pipeline is temporarily stopped up. If that is the calculation underlying Védrine's insistence on French independence, it would benefit from being spelled out more fully. As it is, it's not entirely clear what engrenage he fears being drawn into, or why France cannot be both a fully integrated member of NATO and a reasonably independent national actor. Other NATO powers seem to have no difficulty expressing their disagreement on any number of issues, and Article V, if ever put to the test at a time of real disarray in NATO (heaven forbid), would probably sprout escape clauses faster than an unwitnessed will at a convention of Philadelphia lawyers.


Roger Cohen, recidivist France-basher, is back at it.

UPDATE: Comment outsourced to Tim Fernholz and Steve Benen.