France: Factors Shaping Foreign Policy, and Issues in U.S.-French Relations [Updated January 17, 2008] [open pdf - 192KB]
"The factors that shape French foreign policy have changed since the end of the Cold War. The perspectives of France and the United States have diverged in some cases. More core interests remain similar. Both countries' governments have embraced the opportunity to build stability in Europe through an expanded European Union and NATO. Each has recognized that terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are the most important threats to their security today. […]. Trade and investment ties between the United States and France are extensive, and provide each government a large stake in the vitality and openness of their respective economies. Through trade in goods and services, and, most importantly, through foreign direct investment, the economies of France and the United States have become increasingly integrated. Other areas of complementarity include the Balkans peace operations, the fight against terrorism, and the stabilization of Afghanistan and Lebanon -- all challenges where France has played a central role. A major split occurred over Iraq, however, with many countries either supporting or independently sharing French ideas of greater international involvement. Developments in the Middle East affect French foreign and domestic policy. France has a long history of involvement in the region, and a population of 5-6 million Muslims. Paris believes that resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict is key to bringing peace to the region. Surges in violence in the Middle East have led to anti- Semitic acts in France, mostly undertaken by young Muslims."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32464