Nearly everybody, I suppose, has another country in addition to the one they were born in, where they feel at home. Mine is France, a country I first visited forty years ago, and
where I have lived since 2005. I worked for the French government for three years - a fascinating experience if ever there was one. During all this time, I eventually became convinced
that in spite of their best endeavors, Britain and France will never really understand each other, even if they sometimes think they do. And the areas of security and defence are really
the most problematic of all.
My 1994 book Humanity's Soldier was then, and still remains, the only attempt to try to explain French thinking about defence and security, and their own history, in the terms that
they would use themselves if asked. This was a startling departure from the normal Anglo-Saxon tradition of setting out what the French ought to think, or what we assumed they thought,
and then criticising what they actually did and said, but it seemed logical at the time to me, and still does. Some people loved the book, and others hated it, for that very reason.
It's still just about in print.
If I say so myself, the book has worn remarkably well, and I would not change much of it now.
The most recent article I have written on France is for a forthcoming collection of essays on national security policies of different countries.
My chapter on France is here.
Naturally enough, Anglo-French disagreements have always interested me as well, having been involved in quite a few of them. A short essay
I wrote for a French magazine on the subject is here. And finally, a presentation I have given several times on the subject is
here. It's mostly images, but I think you will see what I mean.