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French Military Interventions in Africa: Realism vs. Ideology in French Defense Policy and Grand Strategy

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Between 1960 and 2005, France launched 46 military operations in its former colonies in Africa, the most recent being the continuing French military deployment on the cease-fire line in Côte d?Ivoire. French military interventionism in its former empire appears to be a consistent policy since decolonization, and is coupled with an extensive network of bilateral Franco-African defense and military assistance treaties. The continuity of French military policy in Africa is a puzzle, however, since overall French defense policy and grand strategy changed significantly during the period in question. The conventional wisdom in the literature on the subject in English and French is that the continuity of French African military policy can be attributed primarily to ideological and identity factors particular to France. This paper will argue that realist theory, rather than arguments about French ideology and identity, is better able to explain French military policy in Africa since decolonization and the privileged place of the former French empire in French defense policy as a whole. Several historical cases of French military intervention since decolonization will be analyzed by contrasting realist theories with ideological arguments based in ideas of French exceptionalism and colonial history to systematically evaluate the explanatory power of realism for this resilient feature of French policy.
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Name: International Studies Association 48th Annual Convention
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MLA Citation:

Griffin, Christopher. "French Military Interventions in Africa: Realism vs. Ideology in French Defense Policy and Grand Strategy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association 48th Annual Convention, Hilton Chicago, CHICAGO, IL, USA, Feb 28, 2007 <Not Available>. 2016-06-08 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p178629_index.html>

APA Citation:

Griffin, C. W. , 2007-02-28 "French Military Interventions in Africa: Realism vs. Ideology in French Defense Policy and Grand Strategy" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association 48th Annual Convention, Hilton Chicago, CHICAGO, IL, USA Online <PDF>. 2016-06-08 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p178629_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Between 1960 and 2005, France launched 46 military operations in its former colonies in Africa, the most recent being the continuing French military deployment on the cease-fire line in Côte d?Ivoire. French military interventionism in its former empire appears to be a consistent policy since decolonization, and is coupled with an extensive network of bilateral Franco-African defense and military assistance treaties. The continuity of French military policy in Africa is a puzzle, however, since overall French defense policy and grand strategy changed significantly during the period in question. The conventional wisdom in the literature on the subject in English and French is that the continuity of French African military policy can be attributed primarily to ideological and identity factors particular to France. This paper will argue that realist theory, rather than arguments about French ideology and identity, is better able to explain French military policy in Africa since decolonization and the privileged place of the former French empire in French defense policy as a whole. Several historical cases of French military intervention since decolonization will be analyzed by contrasting realist theories with ideological arguments based in ideas of French exceptionalism and colonial history to systematically evaluate the explanatory power of realism for this resilient feature of French policy.


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