Why has the Franco-American security relationship been so semi—hostile for so long?

Andrew J Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Many people assume that Franco-American relations since 1776 have been far more harmonious than those of the United States’ relationship with Great Britain. After all, France fought on the side of the new aspiring republic in the American War of Independence against a colonial power. Although still a country ruled by a king, France itself became a republic shortly after the American Declaration of Independence was ratified. But in fact, France and the United States (and the colonies that preceded them) have often had poor relations. In his book Sister Republics: Security Relations between America and France, David Haglund asks why security relations between France and the United States been so fractious since the beginning of the American republic, and even well before it. He debunks the generally accepted mythology and its attendant symbology of two sister republics. The French-built and donated Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor and the statue of General Lafayette on the Seine opposite the Quai d’Orsay in Paris are misleading. In truth any special relationship between France and the United States has been special on the whole in its lack of mutual liking, even respect. Haglund traces this difficult, even suboptimal, relationship over three centuries and shows how the weight of history still continues to upset Franco-American relations regularly.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalPolitical Science Quarterly
VolumeAdvance Articles
Early online date6 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Nov 2023


  • France
  • United States
  • Strategic culture
  • Erbeindschaft (ancestral hatred)
  • Leadership
  • Diaspora


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