Aug/Sept 2008 - n° 711
The first half of 2008 saw the launch of three new ESDP operations in Chad/CAR, Guinea-Bissau and Kosovo. These new initiatives confirm the extent of the European Union’s ambition; the Union is also maintaining its effort to strengthen its capabilities in crisis management. The link between security and the other dimensions of external action, in particular development and human rights, has been significantly reinforced, reflecting the EU’s desire to act as a global, coherent player.
After a brief history of European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), which was much influenced by American strategy and that of the Atlantic Alliance, the author looks at the current state of European defence in the run-up to the tenth anniversary of the St-Malo summit. At a time when choices have to be made, four options are open to the EU: a European Army, a common defence, a ‘defence Schengen’ and a sharing of tasks with NATO and the United States.
In just a few clicks it is now possible to design and produce maps online on the Eurostat website. This can be a big help in understanding the new Europe and its challenges. A short user guide.
To take ESDP forward, France will need Germany’s support. Yet for the moment Berlin is not inclined to give its backing to the French European presidency’s priorities on security and defence. Currently, France and Germany differ not only over revision of the European Security Strategy and reforming the mechanism for financing EU military operations. More importantly, Berlin has reservations on the direction in which France wishes to take ESDP and its motives for returning to NATO’s integrated military structure.
This was the subject of a seminar on 3 June 2008, organised by IPSE (Futurology and Security in Europe Institute) and the journal Défense nationale et sécurité collective at the Romanian Embassy in Paris. Fifteen high-level experts presented their views on the new geopolitical situation in the region to an audience of nearly 180.
The thesis of the ‘Shia Crescent’ suggests that Iran is looking to take the head of a ‘pan-Shia co-prosperity sphere’ stretching from the Mediterranean to the Pamir Mountains. While Tehran has been sedulously cultivating its strategic links with its co-believers in the region, its foreign policy is far from being limited to pan-Shi’ism. In the same way as nuclear, pan-Islamic or Third World initiatives, this relatively unknown axis of Iranian policy is only one of many aspects of a global strategy which aims to transform the Islamic Republic into a regional and international power.
After decades of endemic violence, the Colombian government seems to have found an effective response to the extreme-left insurgency movements, thanks to its strategy of integral action. In a probably inexorable process of internal decline, the FARC is surviving only by virtue of external aid. Close to success in stabilisation, Colombia now has to undertake the always difficult process of normalisation. A study of this ‘model’ can provide many lessons for Western observers.
In an international environment where the threats are increasingly global, the idea of national defence is not what it used to be. A notion of defence that is meant to be increasingly vague and wider is today overshadowed by the idea of national security, and one talks of the ‘defence-security continuum’. The highly compartmentalised ‘French Capharnaum’ of government departments must adapt to this new notion of defence as a component of security itself. However, far from changing the traditional function of defence, the renewal of the idea of national power can only reinforce the importance of the Armed Forces’ defence mission.
Rationalising administration and support: a challenge to take up, under certain conditions - Richard André
The Armed Forces are going to go through a new round of restructuring measures. Transfers, disbanding and reorganisation-a familiar tune? Not really, because this time it isn’t simply a matter of basing and cuts. It is above all almost a revolution that will affect tomorrow’s local military organisation in defence bases. The author, who was involved in drawing up the 2007 report by General Bouteiller on the general support and administration of formations, here gives some dispassionate thoughts on the plan.
With the publication of the White Paper, a solemn rite under the Fifth Republic, the President of the Republic recently communicated to the nation and the Armed Forces his directives on security and defence. The aim of this article is to look at the consequences of some of his choices, and in particular to draw attention to some of the issues regarding the new function ‘knowledge and anticipation’. To quote St Augustine, ‘Rome has spoken; the case is concluded’. The guidelines have been laid down, and it is now up to the Armed Forces to follow them and, as the details are not spelt out, to interpret them effectively.
The National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom (NSS), the British Defence White Paper, was published in March 2008. Its objective is to replace the Strategic Defence Review of 1998, now obsolete, and evaluate the factors which could present new threats to the United King-dom, setting out the broad lines of defence policy for the years to come. A comparison between the NSS and the French Livre blanc sur la défense et la sécurité nationale of June 2008 is an interesting exercise.
Afghanistan, NATO, White Paper: the new trilogy of our future defence. A radical break that seems to have no other basis than a desire to close the Iraq dispute and fall in step with American policy. An explanation is needed as to why it is urgent to adopt a managerial mindset that mixes war and strategy, and whose failure in the Middle East is once again patently obvious.
A recurrent theme in discussions on training, particularly management training, is the development of a culture of general knowledge, yet it is often hard to achieve alongside contemporary practices. Such a culture is often associated with a social role diametrically opposed to the real needs of our times. The truth is that expanding general knowledge and giving it a central role in the training of our future top managers is necessary for the development of independent thinking and application of intelligence in human situations. These capabilities are needed for decision-making in a rapidly changing world in which modern life is posing a challenge to many fundamental principles.
In April 2003 France passed legislation designed to repress mercenary activities. Even if this law severely constrains the so-called ‘romantic’ mercenaries as personified by Colonel Bob Denard, it completely leaves to one side the phenomenon of private military companies (PMCs) that has emerged in Iraq and is currently upsetting the international balance of power. The aim of this article is to demonstrate how this lack is prejudicing the future and the permanence of the geoeconomic action of France and the defence of its strategic interests abroad.