Socialist candidate Segolene Royal today gave a 40 minute speech in which she addressed the subject of defense (or offense for that matter).
As Nicolas Sarkozy has done, Royal pledged to maintain defense spending at 2% of GDP. For comparisons sake, the US spends 3.7% of GDP, and in absolute terms, French spending is the highest in Europe except for Russia and the UK. However, while continuing with the current expenditures, Royal said that France must adapt to new threats.
"I intend to maintain it because the threats changed but did not disappear... We cannot be satisfied to perpetuate programs conceived in a context that has become obsolete...permanent revaluation according to the real threats."
The emerging threats she highlighted included WMD proliferation and terrorism. This led Royal to once again confirm her tough stance with regard to the Iranian nuclear program, saying that:
"The access of Iran to the nuclear weapon and its vectors would be a frightening signal. We are at a turning point, the principle of nonproliferation is put to the test.
France must make the choice of a firmness without fault so that Iran, which signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, adopts a behavior of a responsible member of the international community and subjects itself to controls of the International Atomic Energy Agency. If this limit were crossed, the avalanche of the consequences and the nuclearisation could not be stopped any more."
With regard to France's own nuclear force, she pledged to maintain it, saying that it "guarantees at last resort our freedom."
Royal also expressed that she would only build a second aircraft carrier if it was in conjugation with other European partners.
"The permanent presence at sea of an aircraft carrier is an objective which can be carried out in co-operation with the British."
As for European defense, she asked for the "continuation of the integration of the European armament industry", and bemoaned the still incomplete 60,000 man European defense force.
Segolene Royal concluded her speech with a line that could have been spoken by Sarkozy:
France is not a pacifist power, it is a peaceful power. It does not threaten anybody but will not lower the guard in front of the new threats.
Technorati tags: Ségolène Royal, Segolene Royal, Nicolas Sarkozy, UMP, politics, politique, présidentielle, actualité, France