The French intervention in Mali against Islamist militant groups has drawn worldwide attention to French military forces and their capabilities.
French politicians seem concerned to maintain an independent foreign policy that is distinct from NATO and European Union international politics. The current President François Hollande and previous President Nicolas Sarkozy both have launched military interventions into African civil conflicts. French international relations is articulated simultaneously in European, Mediterranean, and world contexts through its diplomatic and military initiatives. France invests heavily in its arms industries and military organizations, which allow it to conduct a diverse range of deployments and interventions.
Stephen Erlanger, Paris Bureau Chief of the New York Times, provides analysis in a piece entitled, “The French Way of War,” in the Sunday Review of the New York Times online.
Historians of French war and society will want to consider Erlanger’s assessment of the French armed forces, as well as his use of the concept of “ways of war.”
The phrase “way of war” has become very popular among historians of war and society and military pundits, in part due to the success of Russell F. Weigley’s classic study, The American Way of War (1973; reprint, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1977).
Brian McAllister Linn reassessed the concept in Journal of Military History 66 (April 2002), which also published a reply by Russell F. Weigley. A roundtable on “comparative ways of war” was published in Historically Speaking 11: 5 (November 2010). A recent article in Small Wars Journal revisits the debate over an “American way of war.”