Britain and France: A Dialogue of Decline?

#1
An interesting Chatham House document about Anglo-French defence cooperation, a subject which has recently been frequently discussed on this forum.

Chatham House - Publications - Reports and Papers - View Paper

Abstract:

Anglo-French defence cooperation is vital. A true strategic partnership between the world's fifth and sixth largest economies and the second and third biggest cash spenders on defence could finally create a European pole of security and defence power that could in turn help to reinvigorate and re-balance a tired transatlantic relationship.

However, for Britain and France there can be no romantic or nostalgic attachment to past structure and relationships in the pursuit of influence. Britain's relationship with the United States is being re-evaluated, as is France's strategic partnership with Germany. Institutions matter but the EU, NATO, OSCE or the UN institutions must be judged by their competence and utility as levers of influence.

In an age of austerity defence affordability will be at the heart of the Anglo-French agenda. To that end, a practical agenda would focus cooperation on ten areas: strategic nuclear synergy, naval strike co-operation, intelligence sharing, forging a new security knowledge community, operationalising the Comprehensive Approach, affording strategic sovereignty, defence-industrial convergence, specific project co-operation, European defence-industrial consolidation, a new EUROGROUP and the encouragement of genuinely out of the box thinking based on enhanced civil-military synergies.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
Sorry, but there's far, far too many buzzwords in that document. It was written by a brown-nosing clod without an original thought in their head.

"enhancing civil-military synergies" - anyone? Can anyone in the room explain that one? No? OK, we'll move on:
"operationalising the Comprehensive Approach" - No, I'm not giving out hints on this one; anyone? No? Next then:
"encouragement of genuinely out of the box thinking" - that one's easier, but jeez it's been beaten to death.

Can anyone tell me what Julian Lindley-French actually does, is, was, and whether he is now employed full time to "run that up the flag pole"; "expose that to corporate simulation"?

As for the gist of the argument; I'm not sure of the international direction we are being pushed, nor by whom, but all these discussions of a closer military union with France for starters, with no mention of Germany . . . . something we should know about? Why no closer military cooperation with the new EU Super-Force-Gen2-New-Soapier-Bubbles Army thing? Has that quietly raised the white flag and sided with Germany or something?
 

Auld-Yin

ADC
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#3
Quite agree Biped, but look for the positives. Just think of the joys of assaulting a nudist beach on the Cote d'Azur followed by a couple of weeks swanning about some of the best wine making regions in the world. Training will take on a whole new dimension.
 
#4
Quite agree Biped, but look for the positives. Just think of the joys of assaulting a nudist beach on the Cote d'Azur followed by a couple of weeks swanning about some of the best wine making regions in the world. Training will take on a whole new dimension.
Quite agree the sights on Collioure's (Languedoc-Rousillon) pebbly beaches proved a big hit with the ladies. The accommodation and setting is rather spectacular aswell. :thumright:
 
#5
Quite agree the sights on Collioure's (Languedoc-Rousillon) pebbly beaches proved a big hit with the ladies. The accommodation and setting is rather spectacular aswell. :thumright:
Especially if you are doing the 100 metre-long toggle rope death ride straight into the sea from the top of the fortress in early July with many young ladies in attendance.

Immediate hero status guaranteed.
 

cpunk

LE
Moderator
#6
I'm all in favour. I may be a jaded old dinosaur but I can speak French and am not afraid of garlic, escargots and nude beaches. I see a long career ahead of me...
 
#7
I'm all in favour. I may be a jaded old dinosaur but I can speak French and am not afraid of garlic, escargots and nude beaches. I see a long career ahead of me...
You sound like a fifth columnist :(

You'll be telling us you measure things in metric next...
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
Having deleted my naafi-style ripost- does he really suggest we trade our intelligence sharing agreements with the USA for an intelligence sharing agreement with the French? I can see how France gains, but Britain?
 
#10
Having deleted my naafi-style ripost- does he really suggest we trade our intelligence sharing agreements with the USA for an intelligence sharing agreement with the French? I can see how France gains, but Britain?
Why do you see this as an either/or?

There is no reason whatsoever why the UK should not share intelligence produced by UK national efforts with whoever it pleases - intelligence shared with us by the uS (or anyone else) or produced as a result of joint UK/US operations is, of course, a different matter.

C_C
 
#11
I think we should avoid paradigm shifts but I am sure there is more we can do, sharing the FSTA tankers/transports or shared training in other areas for example
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
Why do you see this as an either/or?

There is no reason whatsoever why the UK should not share intelligence produced by UK national efforts with whoever it pleases - intelligence shared with us by the uS (or anyone else) or produced as a result of joint UK/US operations is, of course, a different matter.

C_C
We already do that. The article writer is implying much closer, fuller co-operation in areas that would worry our American partners. And if you tie the French and british militaries closer together how do you seperate out? I suspect we would have to choose fairly early on
 
#13
Especially if you are doing the 100 metre-long toggle rope death ride straight into the sea from the top of the fortress in early July with many young ladies in attendance.

Immediate hero status guaranteed.
Mon dieu exactly which week in early July would that be? First/second week? Ahem just for information purposes only...you understand! :excited:
 
#14
We already do that. The article writer is implying much closer, fuller co-operation in areas that would worry our American partners. And if you tie the French and british militaries closer together how do you seperate out? I suspect we would have to choose fairly early on
Perhaps there's an arguement for trilateral relationships in some areas?

All this raises the interesting debate of how far we have mortgaged our ability to act in the best interests of the UK to a dependence on US intelligence?

It long ago became obvious that the UK could not afford to keep up with the US, particularly in capital intensive high-tech collection capability, and as a result we have, in some areas, become totally reliant on the US. The US has, in return, benefited from some niche UK collection and analytic capability, some fragments of post-Imperial geography, a degree of burden sharing and division of effort, and (possibly) from the residual myth of Her Majesty's Secret Service. As a quid pro quo we have enjoyed privileged (but not total) access to the incomparably larger output of the US intelligence community.

Intelligence is one of the very few bits of the post-war UK/US relationship which has justified the overworked description ‘special’ – I can think of no other example of two nations sharing intelligence in such volumes over such a prolonged period. It even continued largely unabated during the nadir of Anglo-American relations following Suez. US intelligence has indubitably saved UK lives, both during military operations and elsewhere; but the innate secrecy of the subject and the aura of ‘specialness’ makes very difficult (and impossible on this means) to have a debate on total gain/loss to the UK.

So do the advantages of the intelligence relationship outweigh any resultant constraints on the UK’s foreign policy? I believe they currently do, but I'm not so sure this will continue to be the case for another 60 years.


C_C
 
#17
Perhaps there's an arguement for trilateral relationships in some areas?

All this raises the interesting debate of how far we have mortgaged our ability to act in the best interests of the UK to a dependence on US intelligence?

It long ago became obvious that the UK could not afford to keep up with the US, particularly in capital intensive high-tech collection capability, and as a result we have, in some areas, become totally reliant on the US. The US has, in return, benefited from some niche UK collection and analytic capability, some fragments of post-Imperial geography, a degree of burden sharing and division of effort, and (possibly) from the residual myth of Her Majesty's Secret Service. As a quid pro quo we have enjoyed privileged (but not total) access to the incomparably larger output of the US intelligence community.

Intelligence is one of the very few bits of the post-war UK/US relationship which has justified the overworked description ‘special’ – I can think of no other example of two nations sharing intelligence in such volumes over such a prolonged period. It even continued largely unabated during the nadir of Anglo-American relations following Suez. US intelligence has indubitably saved UK lives, both during military operations and elsewhere; but the innate secrecy of the subject and the aura of ‘specialness’ makes very difficult (and impossible on this means) to have a debate on total gain/loss to the UK.

So do the advantages of the intelligence relationship outweigh any resultant constraints on the UK’s foreign policy? I believe they currently do, but I'm not so sure this will continue to be the case for another 60 years.


C_C
I've recently read far too much John le Carré to agree with you.

I'm beginning to come round to the idea of an Anglo-French alliance on the basis that they might force us to stop bending over and spreading quite so much. :nod:
 
#18
Why? State an arguement to support your view


Because we are an independent country. How can we properly look out for our own interests if we are subserviant to the US? I am all in favour of maintaining a strong trans-atlantic alliance but it doesn't mean we shouldn't look to other allies.

The US isn't going to be the only superpower for ever, and its time for us to start expanding and improving our relationships with other rising powers.

Before you say anything, I know France isn't a rising power. But we share many areas of interest with them (Namely the Middle East, West and East Africa and the defence of overseas territories) and they could prove to be a valuable ally should something kick off in these areas and the US won't support us. As the two premier military powers in Europe it only makes sense for us to seek closer co-operation.

In my view, if there is one thing to look up to France for, its the way in which they have maintained a more independent foreign policy post-World War 2 and throughout the Cold War.
 
#19
An interesting Chatham House document about Anglo-French defence cooperation, a subject which has recently been frequently discussed on this forum.

Chatham House - Publications - Reports and Papers - View Paper

Abstract:

Anglo-French defence cooperation is vital. A true strategic partnership between the world's fifth and sixth largest economies and the second and third biggest cash spenders on defence could finally create a European pole of security and defence power that could in turn help to reinvigorate and re-balance a tired transatlantic relationship.

However, for Britain and France there can be no romantic or nostalgic attachment to past structure and relationships in the pursuit of influence. Britain's relationship with the United States is being re-evaluated, as is France's strategic partnership with Germany. Institutions matter but the EU, NATO, OSCE or the UN institutions must be judged by their competence and utility as levers of influence.

In an age of austerity defence affordability will be at the heart of the Anglo-French agenda. To that end, a practical agenda would focus cooperation on ten areas: strategic nuclear synergy, naval strike co-operation, intelligence sharing, forging a new security knowledge community, operationalising the Comprehensive Approach, affording strategic sovereignty, defence-industrial convergence, specific project co-operation, European defence-industrial consolidation, a new EUROGROUP and the encouragement of genuinely out of the box thinking based on enhanced civil-military synergies.
Ye Gods.

Someone's been using the "buzz-word generator" too much.

With that sort of language there is no hope.
 
#20
There's a lot of merit in closer defence ties to our Gallic friends. They're the only other Euro nation with proper force projection capability and the Armee de Terre is a bit tasty when it gets its dander up. Other big Euros (hint, the ones who speak German) aren't politically, logisitically or in any other way prepared to do warfare. The Danes, Dutch and Poles, plus assorted Balts, Czechs and Slovaks, obviously, are nails as, but can only function as part of a wider coalition, adding discrete capabilities.

Of course, we couldn't get too close, as the French will insist on being a sovereign nation and using their armed forces in support of their national interests....
 

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