Western European Nuclear Forces

A British, a French, and an American View

by Nicholas Witney, Olivier DeBouzy, Robert A. Levine


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Each of the three papers herein focuses on the question: What is the best rationale for the continued existence of the West European — British and French — nuclear forces in the post Cold War period? The British and French papers foresee the two forces operating in increasingly close cooperation. The British paper reviews the history of the UK's nuclear force and nuclear philosophies, searching for a rationale that can preserve the political basis for retaining this mission. The "European Vocation" — British and French forces providing a deterrent to protect all of Europe — provides the most robust rationale, with limits and needs. The French paper reviews the complex past of Gaullist nuclear doctrine and the recent White Paper suggesting changes in that doctrine. It recommends going even further than the White Paper by substantially abandoning nuclear independence and substituting increased cooperation with the British built around the "European Vocation." The American paper is based on a view that values retention of the forces but questions the two European rationales for doing so, on the grounds that a threat to Europe requiring nuclear deterrence is not apparent. It suggests that implicit or explicit inertia may provide enough of a rationale for force retention.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    The British Nuclear Deterrent — A European Vocation

    Nicholas Witney

  • Chapter Two

    A European Vocation for the French Nuclear Deterrent?

    Olivier DeBouzy

  • Chapter Three

    An American View

    Robert A. Levine

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