"The US and France : The Old Alliance and the New Challenges of the 21st Century"
Speaker Series Lecture. On October 15, the Consul General of France in Chicago, Jean-Baptiste Main de Boissiere, discussed how to advance the longtime US-France relationship toward a more mutually beneficial strategic alliance. Read the summary of Consul General Main de Boissiere’s remarks.
France and the United States : The Old Alliance and New Challenges of the 21st Century
Summary of Remarks Made to the National Strategy Forum.
On October 15, 2007, the Consul General of France in Chicago, Jean-Baptiste Main de Boissière discussed how the US and France can enhance their longtime relationship. Consul General Boissiere outlined several ideas related to the new US-France alliance.
“[The US-France] friendship constitutes the baseline of the political relationship,” the Consul General explained. This requires reinvigorating many of the relationship fundamentals which include a shared and mutual appreciation for culture as well as strong common values. Although often perceived as contentious, differences in the political cultures should not be seen as a problem but, rather to the contrary, an opportunity as they allow the two Nations to complement each other on the international arena, the Consul noted.
Mr. Boissiere stated that France, a leader in Europe, with its roots in the European Union, can serve as an important access point for the US with regard to its network of contacts and influence. Also, France, with an in-depth understanding of vast regions of Africa and the Middle-East, can provide strategic insights and diplomatic guidance to the US. France can serve as an important advisor to the US with regard to understanding countries’ history, culture, and contemporary problems. Conversely, France counts on the US involvement and strong engagement to advance peace, stability and security in the world, notably to address challenges posed by the Middle-East crisis, the disruption of the financial markets or global warming.
“A complementary relationship can therefore be a positive sum game [for the US and France]”. But to be mutually beneficial it needs to be oriented towards positive goals. Consul General Boissière offered several examples, including securing peace, assisting developing countries, fighting terrorism, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, fighting the development of pandemic diseases, ensuring the stability of the financial markets, integrating the emerging powers and allowing for the peaceful long-term coexistence of the West and the Muslim world.
The main obstacle to the deepening of the US-France relationship, the Consul General explained, is the difficulty of managing a relationship which is asymmetric by its very nature, given the differences in size between the two nations. The rationale for a strong partnership exists, he explained, but the US, which might have a tendency to view their allies as supporters rather than partners, needs to rethink the way it handles its relations on a broader, strategic level.
To conclude, Consul General Boissiere stated that “there is a wealth of potential for the US and France. He than explained that strengthening of political ties requires not only stronger personal ties between the leaders but also a better and mutual understanding of the two societies, as well as a thorough and open review of each other’s goals and strategies regarding world affairs, foreign policy and security are both essential./.