France comes back to NATO

Despite his flailing approval ratings, Nicolas Sarkozy must be doing something right. Today in Paris, the French president survived a Parliamentary vote of confidence over his plans to fully rejoin the NATO alliance after 40 years away. Sarkozy’s penchant for rip-roaring foreign policy deals shows no sign of halting.  As Judah Grunstein points out on ...

By , International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.
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Despite his flailing approval ratings, Nicolas Sarkozy must be doing something right. Today in Paris, the French president survived a Parliamentary vote of confidence over his plans to fully rejoin the NATO alliance after 40 years away. Sarkozy's penchant for rip-roaring foreign policy deals shows no sign of halting. 

As Judah Grunstein points out on FP this week, "rejoin" is an odd phrase for a country that contributes troops to NATO missions and shows up at all the big meetings and events. But France is not involved in the NATO command structure that designs and coordinates the alliance's missions. That seperation was an idea of Charles de Gualle, who worried about compromising French sovereignty.

Now France is back, but Sarkozy promises not to lose a smidgen of the country's independence. In fact, as Grunstein argues, rejoining NATO will make the French (read: Sarkozy) even stronger. And if the president's love of the spotlight is any indication -- I suspect that's a promise he can follow through on. 

Despite his flailing approval ratings, Nicolas Sarkozy must be doing something right. Today in Paris, the French president survived a Parliamentary vote of confidence over his plans to fully rejoin the NATO alliance after 40 years away. Sarkozy’s penchant for rip-roaring foreign policy deals shows no sign of halting. 

As Judah Grunstein points out on FP this week, “rejoin” is an odd phrase for a country that contributes troops to NATO missions and shows up at all the big meetings and events. But France is not involved in the NATO command structure that designs and coordinates the alliance’s missions. That seperation was an idea of Charles de Gualle, who worried about compromising French sovereignty.

Now France is back, but Sarkozy promises not to lose a smidgen of the country’s independence. In fact, as Grunstein argues, rejoining NATO will make the French (read: Sarkozy) even stronger. And if the president’s love of the spotlight is any indication — I suspect that’s a promise he can follow through on. 

Elizabeth Dickinson is International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Colombia.

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