France is one of the leading lights of westerndemocracy.
Its values of liberty, equality and fraternity laid the basis for modern society’sideal liberal policies regarding freedom of thought, freedom of faith, and freedom ofspeech.
It was the leading force behind shaping whatis now the European Union, and is still one of its most influential members.
It is a foundingmember of NATO and has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
With its own nucleararsenal, strong political influence and an interest in world affairs, just how dangerousis France? How Dangerous Is France? Sixty-five million people live in France.
When you include its overseas departments and territories, the French Republic has apopulation of sixty-seven million.
It has over 200,000 personnel in its standing army,and another 200,000 in reserve.
It has 1,300 aircraft in its air force, and nearly 8,000tanks, armored vehicles and artillery pieces.
Most importantly, France has the third largeststockpile of nuclear warheads in the world, with around 300 operational warheads.
Though its military is highly capable, Francerarely uses it.
France had never been involved in more than two armed conflicts simultaneouslyuntil 2011, when it committed soldiers to aid its allies in Afghanistan, Libya and theIvory Coast.
This contrasts with the USA, which is typically involved in five wars ata time.
France denies having any chemical weapons, and is a signatory to treaties banningboth biological weapons and nuclear tests.
Nevertheless, at least one of its four nuclearsubmarines is on patrol in the Atlantic at any time.
And in 2006, then-President JacquesChirac confirmed that France would be willing to use nuclear weapons defensively againstits terrorist enemies.
Terrorism is a major threat to the peopleof France, and to anyone visiting the country.
France has endured terror attacks every yearsince 1971.
From the 14th November 2015 to the 15th July 2017, the French governmentenforced a national state of emergency in response to terror attacks.
This allowed thegovernment to shut down certain areas without warning, impose curfews, ban certain gatheringsof people and close venues, if it believed there was a threat to security.
Upwards often thousand soldiers and even more armed police have been deployed at schools, synagogues,department stores and sites considered to be terrorist targets.
In the previous two-and-a-half years, nearly250 people were killed by terror attacks involving explosions and shootings, sometimes at touristlandmarks like the Louvre and Champs Elysees.
France’s constitution has separated churchand state since 1945, and this has made it a likely target for religious extremists.
The infamous shooting at the headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015,was motivated by the magazine’s ridiculing of the prophet Muhammad.
In a similar vein, religious extremists havebeen provoked by French laws that ban anyone wearing clothing that covers the face in publicspaces, and students wearing religious symbols in schools.
This last law in particular hasbeen interpreted as a ban on the Muslim hijab and khimar.
Recently, several local authoritiesbanned the burkini on the grounds of its religious connotations.
This was criticised as sexist,repressive and Islamophobic, further stoking anti-French sentiment amongst terror groupslike Al Qaeda and Daesh.
However, despite its active role in the Waron Terror, France is hardly a threat to other nations.
It tends to only commit troops tomilitary operations made by the UN and NATO.
Moreover, the foreign policy of the new President,Emmanuel Macron, is built around non-intervention.
Although he is openly opposed to VladimirPutin’s aggressive hacking and military actions in Syria and the Ukraine, Macron haswelcomed the Russian President with the stated aim of opening negotiations to end war.
Moreimportantly, Macron has withdrawn France’s insistence that the conflict in Syria canonly end with the removal of President Assad.
Indeed, far from being a threat to the restof the world, in July 2016 the head of France’s internal intelligence agency, Patrick Calvar,said, “Today, France is clearly the most threatened country.
The question about thethreat is not to know ‘if’ but ‘when’ and ‘where’.
” With this in mind, PresidentMacron is more interested in withdrawing France from wars abroad and beefing up national security.
On the other hand, Macron’s domestic policiesmay create danger.
France has a long history of strong workers’ rights, and unions oftengo on strike to protect them.
Such strikes have even brought down governments in thepast.
Emmanuel Macron wants to reform those rights and weaken the unions.
Though the reformsaren’t extreme, they are enough that militant protests may break out.
In a protest in May2017, right after Macron was elected, workers on strike in central France rigged their factorywith booby traps that would explode if authorities tried to arrest them.
According to those closestto him, the new President plans to pass the reforms over the summer holidays, and usethe unions against one another, since their history of disagreeing with each other isalmost as long as their history of striking.
All the same, it is a gamble that could leadto violence in the streets.
If violence does erupt, it could be exacerbated by tensionsthat already exist between the far right and the far left, as well as racial divisionsthat permeate French society.
These tensions go largely unacknowledged because their constitutiondoes not recognise any differences based on skin colour, race or religion.
France is not a danger to the world at large.
In fact, it is a prime target for aggression from religious extremists, especially Islamistterrorists.
Divisions between its political wings, racial groups and workers’ unionsmake it potentially unstable.
However, it still remains a hugely influential partnerin the European Union and the United Nations – an influence it maintains with one the bestmilitaries in the world.