By Anand Menon (auth.)
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Additional resources for France, NATO and the Limits of Independence 1981-97: The Politics of Ambivalence
63 Hence, French forces would intervene on the basis of a pre-planned mission of agreed length and scale. 64 Moreover, independence limited the geographical scope of any such intervention. De Gaulle issued a series of secret directives to the Commander of the First Army in 1967 and 1968, limiting its engagement in both time and space. These were subsequently interpreted by former Defence and Foreign Minister Pierre Messmer as eschewing French participation in a conventional battle for Germany. 66 Planning for the possible participation of French conventional forces in Europe alongside allies was strongly inﬂuenced by the fact that these forces were equipped with tactical nuclear weapons.
1 1979 had witnessed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan whilst in the following year Moscow had declared a state of martial law in Poland. On the western side, President Reagan initiated a more aggressive approach to East–West relations, characterised in particular by a ﬁrm attitude towards the deployment of Cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe. In France, Mitterrand, immediately following his election victory, dissolved the National Assembly and gained a comfortable Socialist majority in the ensuing elections.
Not only was he outspoken in his defence of the zero option, but he found himself playing a central role in the debate, often acting as a mediator between the ‘doves’ in Bonn on the one hand and the British ‘hawks’ on the other. Moreover, away from the public gaze (and from the need for presidential approval), Chirac’s Government cast doubt on traditional policy orientations. Chirac in 1987 instructed Jean Picq, his adviser on strategic questions, to prepare a report on French relations with 38 France, NATO and the Limits of Independence NATO, outlining possibilities for adapting policy.