French Defense White Paper plays key role in global geostrategyMay 2, 2013
France has released it’s latest Defense White Paper, in which the nation lays out its plans to cut French military both financially and in personnel, while still maintaining the ability to project power along an axis from the Gulf of Guinea to the Indian Ocean. European Geostrategy has a summary of the White Paper here.
French ability to project power along this axis is critical to US strategic thinking. The weakened fiscal position plus the irresistible growth of the welfare state will continue to limit American flexibility in ways that were unforeseen at the beginning of this century. Thus, the US pivot to Asia and the Pacific can only be accomplished if the Americans can count on their allies – similarly diminished – to maintain regional hegemony over that portion of the globe. Last year, European Geostrategy discussed the “Neo-Western” British/French Alliance that has been developing this decade. This White Paper is an indication that the French, despite a change in regime, intends to keep up this project.
This alliance, combined with the growing trilateral relationship among India, Australia and Japan, rings the Eurasian Heartland with US allied maritime powers – all relatively like-minded democracies with relatively pro free market policies. This group of six nations – each individually weaker than their individual zeniths – combine to maintain US hegemony over a world system that benefits them all.
In this formulation, the US relinquishes regional hegemony to each of its critical allies (and perhaps a dozen or so smaller allies, as well), keeping its military might flexible to respond as backup power wherever needed. Creating linkages among sophisticated military, computer and technical equipment links these alliances together and makes them easier to cooperate in a conflict as well. This is the challenge that Chinese strategists face in trying to make this the Chinese century.