French Foreign Policy Since 1945: An Introduction

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French Foreign Policy Since 1945: An Introduction
by Frédéric Bozo. Translated by Jonathan Hensher
Berghahn Books, 2016
220 pp.
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Bozo commands the details of his country’s foreign policy, and he never gets lost in them. French foreign policy, in his view, changes far less than the grand rhetorical declarations of successive presidents might lead one to expect. Beginning with President Charles de Gaulle in 1945, all French leaders have sought to manage the slow decline of France’s relative prestige and power in both Europe and the world. Accordingly, maintaining substantial military (especially nuclear) capabilities and a central role in the EU have remained constant priorities. Although Bozo dispels the illusion of powerful French presidents, his treatment relies heavily on a set of perceptions common among French foreign policy elites and so focuses on NATO security and nuclear policy to the exclusion of nearly everything else. A reader might thus never suspect that France pursues an active policy of military or economic intervention in Africa and the Middle East. Moreover, in an era of “soft” and economic power, French policies on trade, finance, immigration, development, culture, European enlargement, and East Asia go nearly unmentioned. The definitive study of modern French foreign policy remains to be written.