It is not just Europe and the European Union that have something at stake in the outcome of the French elections. One of French President François Hollande’s legacies is the creation of the strongest Franco-American defense and intelligence relationships in living memory. Hollande’s wise and cool-headed minister of defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, steadily built this relationship in close partnership with four successive U.S. secretaries of defense, establishing a unique and warm bond with each.
The bonhomie began in 2013 with then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s pledge to provide relentless support to French operations in Mali. From that point until today, U.S. and French forces have been deep in the fight together in a crescent from Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Five years ago, our intelligence partners were split between the Five Eyes nations and everybody else. Now, with years of combat and counterterrorism activities together, it is Five Eyes plus France. Whoever wins the May 7 runoff election will inherit this defense and intelligence relationship, along with the responsibility to work with U.S. President Donald Trump to protect and nurture it.
The United States and France have had their difficult moments. From “Citizen Genêt” and the Quasi-War in the late 18th century to freedom fries in the 21st century, it seems the U.S.-France relationship is in perpetual marriage counseling. If nations had a genetic code, the U.S. and France would be genetically fated to always see the world differently as it did when President Charles de Gaulle kicked NATO out of Paris. However, when there is a scrape to be had, the U.S. and France often find themselves fighting shoulder to shoulder.
Read the full article at Defense News.
More from CNAS
PodcastCrackdown Ahead of Duma Elections, with Russian Opposition Member Dmitry Gudkov and Maria Snegovaya
What does the Kremlin’s crackdown ahead of the recent Duma elections tell us about the current domestic political situation in Russia? Russian opposition leader Dmitri Gudkov ...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Dmitri Gudkov & Maria Snegovaya
CommentaryPresentation is key: Why the Pentagon’s budget data needs a makeover
As technology advances, Congress and the DoD need to not only focus investments on capabilities, but also on DoD processes and organizational culture....
By Jennie Matuschak
PodcastHow Air Warfare is Changing
Guests Stacie Pettyjohn and Becca Wasser join Defense One Radio to describe lessons from Iraq, Azerbaijan, Gaza, and more in the future of air warfare. Listen to the full con...
By Stacie Pettyjohn & Becca Wasser
PodcastThe Ongoing Crisis in Belarus, with David Kramer and Brian Whitmore
What does the evolving political situation in Belarus mean for U.S. and European interests? Brian Whitmore and David Kramer join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to disc...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, David J. Kramer & Brian Whitmore