French military ambition

France finds itself involved in three conflicts around the world: Afghanistan, Libya, and the Ivory Coast. Boston University international relations professor William Keylor is the author of “A World of Nations: The International Order Since 1945,” and an authority on the history of modern France. He offers his view on France’s new found military ambition:

“During the Cold War, France periodically pushed for a European (and mainly French) military capability apart from the overwhelming military force of the United States. From Charles de Gaulle to Francois Mitterrand, various schemes were hatched to achieve this result. None of them amounted to anything.

“In the same period, France launched military interventions on numerous occasions in its former colonies in sub-Sahara Africa, defending proteges from domestic threats or ousting leaders who had lost favor with the former colonial power.

“Now, President Sarkozy seems intent on resurrecting this old policy of robust military interventions, this time for humanitarian reasons in partnerships with the United Nations. Unlike in the past, now Washington appears to be supportive of these independent French operations. And polls show that the French public is strongly supportive as well.

“But the big question is, where is the European Union and its much celebrated European Security and Defense Policy?”

Contact William Keylor, 617-358-0197,