This chapter traces the contours of France's nuclear postures over time. During the Cold War and after, France adopted an asymmetric escalation posture—though for very different reasons in the two periods. During the Cold War, France's geopolitical position and its fear of American abandonment in the event of a conflict pushed France toward an asymmetric escalation posture for strictly security reasons. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, France enjoyed a more benign security environment. It was then faced with a choice: it could scale back its nuclear force posture toward an assured retaliation posture to deter conflict and coercion at the nuclear level, or it could continue to adopt an asymmetric escalation posture as a hedge to deter future potential conventional threats. France has since opted to maintain an independent asymmetric escalation posture.
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