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Sarkozy’s Three-Way NATO Bet

PARIS – France’s return to NATO’s integrated military structure after a 43-year absence last year brought to an end one of the exceptions françaises. It also helped frame the growing debate over whether to develop European defense more effectively or to seriously reform the Atlantic alliance.

At first glance, it may seem that France chose NATO at the expense of the ten-year-old European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). But that interpretation takes too pessimistic a view of ESDP’s achievements over the past decade, and is based on a flawed understanding of the relationships between NATO and the European Union.