Good on him, though it won’t make most Euro populations–including the French–any more willing to do serious combat in Afghanistan:
Sarkozy Embraces NATO, and Bigger Role for France
The French, who never really left, are expected to rejoin NATO as full members at the alliance’s 60th anniversary summit meeting next month.
The decision, still to be formalized by President Nicolas Sarkozy, has stirred a predictable political debate in France, but it is being welcomed by Washington and France’s European allies.
The full reintegration of France into the command structure of NATO will have little practical impact; France has long contributed money and is the fourth largest contributor of troops. But the decision to rejoin as a full partner carries enormous political and psychological weight, NATO officials and experts say.
It could promise an effective end to an argument that has lasted decades, led by France, about Europe acting as a “counterweight” to the United States in military affairs.
In many ways, NATO has been drifting since its post-cold-war enlargement, taking on major commitments like Afghanistan without a serious debate over the alliance’s strategy and purpose. But those arguments can now take place within an alliance where France has a full voice, and where Washington is less skeptical of Paris’s intentions.
Mr. Sarkozy made closer ties and reintegration with NATO a part of his presidential campaign in 2007. Last month, at a conference in Munich, he repeated his determination to strengthen links with NATO despite opposition at home…
Washington may not always like the European aversion to war — as displayed in the reluctance of most NATO members to send more troops to Afghanistan. But France, like Britain, is a European country that fights. It has a serious military establishment, including nuclear arms, and an expeditionary tradition [emphasis added, like the Brits].
…it was Charles de Gaulle, after all, who in 1966 pulled France out of the military command, and kicked American bases out of France and NATO headquarters out of Paris in an effort to preserve French policy independence…
Just remember that France never left the alliance itself, formed by the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty. Rather, de Gaulle pulled France out of the alliance’s integrated military command. The creation of that structure was largely a response to the Korean War; it only started taking shape in 1951 when General Eisenhower took up in Paris his newly-created position as the alliance’s first Supreme Allied Commander Europe.