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French troops moving into Ukraine could shake up Europe

Mar 27

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At the outset of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron pursued a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. Recently, with the war still dragging on, Macron has adopted a far more hawkish position. On Tuesday, March 19, the commander of the French ground forces stated that his troops are prepared for deployment, indicating his readiness to mobilize up to 20,000 soldiers within 30 days for potential combat in Ukraine.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan delves into why France is now seriously considering backing Ukrainian troops. Zeihan explores the potential impact of French military involvement in the war and predicts that this development will likely yield significant results by the year’s end.

Excerpted from Peter’s March 27 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

There’s been recent discussions by French President Macron regarding deploying French troops to Ukraine. Is this really going to happen and why would they do this?

Given France’s nationalist stance, stable demographics, and the evolving European landscape, this appears to be a feasible endeavor. The French stand to gain some insight to tech and new tactics, some resource regulation, and the obvious strategic positioning to support Ukrainian forces and the security interests of wider Europe.

Given the relative speed with which France can make decisions and implement them (when compared to the Germans), this is likely the emergence of the French as an assertive power in European strategic conversations. This move could shake up all of Europe, so I’ll be monitoring this situation as it continues to unfold.

Hey everybody, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from Colorado. Today we’re going to kick around with the French are doing in Europe, specifically in Ukraine. You have a French president McCrone, who has been recently talking about sending French troops into Ukraine. And not only is this like broken the ice on a broader strategic discussion, it bears the question of what the hell the French are thinking and how they fit into the Alliance Network, how this might play out. And I gotta say, in traditional French fashion, it’s,
it’s interesting. So the French have a reputation well earned, I might point out for being
rather narcissistic, they’re convinced that the world revolves around them. They believe that oftentimes the the Americans are just as much of a problem as the more legitimate strategic threats, because the Americans tend to take the lead in everything because the providing the men and the money and the intelligence and the satellite system than the transport, you know, other pesky things.
But the French have always, always always been at the center of decision making in Europe, largely because they’ve had a relatively strategic position out on the western edge where they’re not being constantly hit from multiple directions. So they can focus their forces when they want to not the degree of a naval power, like Britain, of course, but for land power, they push pretty hard, and it’s kind of hard to hit them back. Now, what this means is that the French being on the far side of Western Europe, are directly impacted by the day to day goings on of the Ukraine war. And even in the worst case scenario where Ukraine falls, they’re not in the next line of attack, that would be Poland and Germany, and then the Low Countries before you would get to France. So from a certain point of view, the French can take an almost American approach to this and take the very long view. And that’s been shaped by their political culture, their geography, their military system. Now, this is nothing new here. But why why, why why? Why would they be talking about sending troops? Well, we’ve got a few things going on, that are making this more and more feasible. Number one, the very nature of Europe needs to change. So the EU, as it was originally envisioned, was an economic and trading club. But everything that allowed it to work is basically broken down to the last few years. Number one, globalization is going away. So the Europeans are losing their ability to sell on the international market bit by bit. France, B nationalist, never really got into that. So they don’t have anything to lose. Second, demographics, most of Europe is aging so rapidly, that all of the major countries typically basically cease functioning as modern economies in five to 15 years, but not France. France actually has needless policies, and so has a pretty high birth rate, or complications that come from that. But this is not a country whose economic models in danger. Third, if Europe, as an entity is going to matter at all, it has to be able to stand up for its own security concerns. And we now know very clearly that the Russians are not going to stop unless they are stopped. That means Francie, despite being on the far western edge, can’t take a completely hands off approach, you can take the long view, but it can’t do nothing. You put all this together. And the French see putting boots on the ground as you create a something to very seriously consider. Number one, there’s a lot of resources, especially in agriculture, in Ukraine, getting that under the European ages. So it can be regulated by European norms is something the French like just as it is, number two technology, Ukraine has become a background in a new type of warfare using mass drones in the hands of not just strategic decision makers, but everyday troops. And if you are France, you would rather understand that before it comes to your borders. So having folks there not just to train the Ukrainians, but to be trained by the Ukrainians makes a lot of sense. Three, whatever the future of the European Union is going to be, it’s not going to be a major trading bloc, they no longer have the population to sustain that. It’s going to be based more on politics, security, culture, and identity. Well, these are things that the French are much more comfortable with. And if you can bring Ukraine into that family, it makes the overall unity of the system much stronger and more coherent. This isn’t like the old days when the French would oppose European Union expansion because they didn’t want to have to subsidize anyone. Those days are over anyway, the European Union is losing the ability to do that, as the Germans aged out, there’s no one left to write the check, except for the French and they don’t want to so they’d rather change the nature of the Union itself.
Ha high and then finally, there’s a leadership issue here. Very short term leadership issue. Under German Chancellor Schultz, Germany is basically getting dragged into
lot of strategic positions, they’ve got a fractured government made of libertarian businessman, greens, and social democrats. And there’s very little that they agree on. And it’s really hard for them to change their mind on any policy or take a leadership position. Because before Germany can act, the coalition has to come to an agreement. So whether it’s been on subsidies, or health care, or labor negotiations of Ukraine war, or EU policy, everything is just so damn slow.
And then you have France where there’s a majority government, run by a major party under a relatively charismatic leader who can make decisions and implement them very quickly. And if you put that in the context of what’s going on in Ukraine right now, in this conversation of troops,
people aren’t looking to Germany to set the strategic conversation at all. They’re looking to the French and may they may not like what the French have to say. But there’s a lot of different opinions. Because if you are in a Estonia, or Latvia, or Lithuania, or Finland, or Sweden or Poland, well, of course, we’re going to have to get involved in Ukraine. Of course, the Russians are not going to stop. Of course, we need to consider putting boots on the ground in order to protect the Ukrainians and look out for European values, to have someone on the other side of Europe and far west saying that that’s a rallying cry, not something to argue against. So for the first time, in quite some time, the French are getting some very real strategic kudos from other European countries for being aggressive, as opposed to just arguing with the United States.
And then there’s the final issue of what would they do when they get there. We’re not talking about French troops going to the frontline and fighting the Russians. And I don’t know this is not a Napoleonic invasion. The idea is threefold. Number one, you put them there in order to repair equipment that the Ukrainians need, so it doesn’t have to get shipped all the way to Western Europe. So speed the process up. Number two, training both ways. The French training the Ukrainians, especially things like Special Forces, the Ukrainians training the French and especially in things like drones. And then third, provide a strategic backstop in places that you don’t expect to get hot, but could so you put French troops on, say the border of Bella rousse, or the border of Moldova, where the Russians have forces in a place called Trans Dijkstra, where they’re basically sponsored a secession, his operation 30 years ago, and they’re still there. And that way, the Ukrainian forces that are there now can redirect to the front line. So there’s a lot of reasons that we should treat this seriously. I mean, yes, it’s the French so there’s a lot of bombast and pomposity, but this is a very, very real strategic discussion that McCrone has started. And if I was a betting man, I’d say it’s gonna manifest as something that is actually real before the end of this year.

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