Opinion | Columnists

US and France: A renewed alliance

Rooted in a friendship dating back more than two centuries, the ties are a model for global cooperation

  • Barack Obama President of the US Francois Hollande President of France
  • Published: 20:00 February 10, 2014
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: ©Gulf News

Today, American and French diplomats are preparing for talks with Iran that build on the agreement that has halted progress on and rolled back key elements of the Iranian nuclear programme. French and American officials share information daily to combat terrorism around the world. Their development experts are helping farmers across Africa and on other continents boost their yields and escape poverty. In forums such as the Group of Eight and the Group of 20, the US and France promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth, jobs and stability — and we address global challenges that no country can tackle alone. At high-tech start-ups in Paris and Silicon Valley, American and French entrepreneurs are collaborating on the innovations that power global economy.

A decade ago, few would have imagined these two countries working so closely together in so many ways, but in recent years, the alliance has transformed. Since France’s return to Nato’s military command four years ago and consistent with America’s continuing commitment to strengthen the Nato-European Union partnership, the cooperation has been expanded across the board. The US and France are sovereign and independent nations that make their decisions based on respective national interests. Yet, they have been able to take their alliance to a new level because their interests and values are so closely aligned.

Rooted in a friendship stretching back more than two centuries, this deepening partnership offers a model for international cooperation. Transnational challenges cannot be met by any one nation alone. More nations must step forward and share the burden and costs of leadership. More nations must meet their responsibilities for upholding global security and peace and advancing freedom and human rights.

Building on the first-step agreement with Iran, the US and France are united with their “P5+1” partners (Britain, Russia, China + Germany) and the European Union (EU) and will meet next week in Vienna to begin discussions aimed at achieving a comprehensive solution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. In Syria, the credible threat of force has paved the way for the plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. Now, Syria must meet its obligations. With the Syrian civil war threatening the stability of the region, including Lebanon, the international community must step up its efforts to care for the Syrian people, strengthen the moderate Syrian opposition and work through the Geneva 2 process towards a political transition that delivers the Syrian people from dictatorship and terrorism.

Perhaps nowhere is the US-France partnership on more vivid display than in Africa. In Mali, French and African Union forces — with US logistical and information support — have pushed back Al Qaida-linked insurgents, allowing the people of Mali to pursue a democratic future. Across the Sahel, the US and France are partnering with countries to prevent Al Qaida from gaining new footholds. In the Central African Republic, French and African Union soldiers — backed by American airlift and support — are working to stem violence and create space for dialogue, reconciliation and swift progress to transitional elections. Across the continent, from Senegal to Somalia, US and France are helping train and equip local forces so they can take responsibility for their own security. The two nations are partnering with governments and citizens who want to strengthen democratic institutions, improve agriculture and alleviate hunger, expand access to electricity and deliver treatment that saves lives from infectious diseases. The two countries, US and France, were the earliest and are among the strongest champions of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Alongside a revitalised alliance on the world stage, France and America are also working to deepen their bilateral economic relationship. Already, France is one of America’s top export markets and the US is the largest customer for French goods outside the EU — trade that supports nearly a million jobs in the two countries. The cooperation in science and education is illustrated by existing partnerships between the universities of these two nations, top research laboratories and space agencies. But as entrepreneurial societies that cherish the spirit of invention and creativity, we need to do more to lead the world in innovation.

The trade and investment partnership that the two nations are pursuing between the EU and the US is a major opportunity to build on millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, already supported by US-EU trade. Such an agreement will result in more trade, more jobs and more export opportunities, including for small businesses in both US and France. It would also build a lasting foundation for the efforts to promote growth and the global economic recovery. This includes the leadership to combat climate change. Even as the two nations reduce their own carbon emissions, they can expand the clean energy partnerships that create jobs and move towards low-carbon growth. The two nations can do more to help developing countries shift to low-carbon energy as well and deal with rising seas and more intense storms. As US and France work towards next year’s climate conference in Paris, all nations are being urged to join them in pursuit of an ambitious and inclusive global agreement that reduces greenhouse gas emissions through concrete actions. The climate summit to be organised by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, this September will give US and France the opportunity to reaffirm their ambitions for the climate conference in Paris.

The challenges of our time cannot be wished away. The opportunities of our interconnected world will not simply fall into our laps. The future we seek, as always, must be earned. For more than two centuries, the people of France and the US have stood together for their mutual freedom. Now they are meeting their responsibilities not just to each other, but to a world that is more secure because this enduring US-France alliance is being made new again.

— Washington Post

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