Weaponized storytelling à la française: Demystifying France’s narratives around its arms export policies

French storytelling about its weapons exports include that its processes are already “strict, transparent and responsible” enough as they are and that weapons sales are an intrinsically essential support to the country’s strategic autonomy and foreign policy interests. Analysis of exports to five conflict zones suggests that this self-perception is at best incomplete, at worst, erroneous. Demystifying these stories and conducting a sober assessment of their validity is critical because the evolving dynamics of armed conflict around the world heighten the need for genuine accountability in the global arms trade. Crucially, if left unchecked, these dynamics also precisely undermine France’s strategic autonomy and its foreign policy interests, notably because of the growing reverse influence of client states and the long-term destabilization linked to arms (re)transfers to non-state actors. This report is part of the research program “Defense Industries, Foreign Policy and Armed Conflict” funded in part by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and is carried out in partnership with the OpenSecrets.

This paper is also available in French.

For a concise overview, access the Executive Summary, available in English.

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