This article looks at the way France's arms exports have historically been framed as an inherent part of the country's core policies to achieve “strategic autonomy” at the domestic and international levels. It posits that taking this argument for granted without subjecting it to critical scrutiny is hazardous because it enables the continued unquestioned support for French arms sales and hampers the development of more stringent export control processes. Today, the need to look beyond this blanket storytelling is heightened in a context where unchecked exports relying on outdated views of global dynamics have precisely started to undermine France's strategic autonomy and interests. Not only does the country's growing dependence on exports create an antinomy of arms sales as a means of strategic independence, but the phenomenon of clients' reverse influence onto suppliers amidst a consolidated buyer's market also calls into question the autonomy of France's foreign policy.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska