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
CommentarySharper: Defense Tech
The prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) systems, the growing centrality of information warfare, and threats to traditional command and control are redefining combat in ...
By Jennie Matuschak, Ainikki Riikonen & Anna Pederson
PodcastThe Greens and the Future of German Defense Policy, with Claudia Major and Christian Mölling
What is role of defense and security in the upcoming German election? Claudia Major and Christian Mölling join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss the future of ...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Christian Mölling & Claudia Major
VideoUnited States can improve deterrence by posing dilemmas to China and Russia
Chris Dougherty, Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, joins Government Matters to discuss strategy for multi-domain information warfare. Watch the full in...
By Chris Dougherty
PodcastA League of Like-Minded Nations
Will Inboden and Jim Golby sit down with Amb. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a former U.S. senator and most recently U.S. ambassador to NATO. They discuss NATO’s future, the challenges...
By Jim Golby