France conducted a unique grand strategy, labeled “grandeur,” from the late 1950s to 1989. Its key elements were: the search for global status; the need for independence in decision-making and a related refusal to accept subordination to the United States; and the primacy of nuclear power in its military arsenal. But France has radically reoriented its grand strategy for the last three decades towards a more integrative formulation of “liberal engagement.” This chapter first describes the features of grandeur and then identifies the factors that led France to pursue liberal engagement. It describes and compares the characteristics of the two along three axes: their theoretical bases, causal logic, and policy components. The chapter concludes by examining the impact of liberal engagement on France’s forms of foreign engagement; assesses the ways and extent to which they serve France’s interests; and evaluates the consequences of those choices.
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