Making and Marketing Arms: The French Experience and Its Implications for the International System

Making and Marketing Arms: The French Experience and Its Implications for the International System

by Edward A. Kolodziej


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Monday, April 6


France ranks as the world's third largest arms exporter and supplies arms and military technology to over a hundred countries. This book exposes the compelling aims and interests—national independence, security, economic welfare, foreign influence, grandeur—that explain the nation's successes in arms production and transfers.

Originally published in 1987.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691606606
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/14/2014
Series: Princeton Legacy Library , #803
Pages: 546
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Making and Marketing Arms

The French Experience and Its Implications for the International System

By Edward A. Kolodziej


Copyright © 1987 Princeton University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-691-07734-5


From the Beginning through the Fourth Republic


French arms production and strategic military policy, including the raising, training, and equipping of armed forces, are inextricably entwined. However much French regimes — royal, imperial, or republican — may have differed in composition, claims to legitimacy, or objectives, they could agree that France's independence, security, big-power role — grandeur no less — required an autonomous military strategy and national armed forces free from outside control. These imperatives generated yet another, until now largely overlooked, feature of the evolution of the French nation and state: making and marketing arms. French will to be French — to forge a nation and to fashion a state — explains much of the efforts of French governments to ensure an indigenous capacity to fabricate arms. Under the Fifth Republic, heir to a legacy of over a millennium of national independence, arms production has grown increasingly more complex and sophisticated. Making arms, conventional and nuclear, is now woven deeply into the fabric of France's scientific and technological establishment, industrial plant, business practices, governing process — even its cultural mores. And, for the first time in France's history, the arms complex depends for its survival on a global sales network tied to over 100 states around the world.

However important other factors are in explaining French arms transfer policy — and these are increasingly powerful as we will soon see — the real and perceived imperatives of political independence, physical security, and grandeur form, through the centuries, the tap roots of current French arms production and transfer behavior. Conflicts between the Right and Left over generations have thus turned less on the question of whether there should be an arms industry than on secondary, if still fervently disputed, issues: how the arms industry should be organized, whether under the aegis of the private sector or the state; who should direct it; and who should receive French arms and know-how and under what conditions.

This chapter and the next trace the evolution of French military strategic policy and its implication for arms production since the inception of the modern French state. Chapter 1 carries the discussion through the Fourth Republic; Chapter 2 focuses on the strategic policy of the Fifth Republic in which arms production has played a central role in the security policy of successive governments, in the rapid industrialization and progressive competitiveness of the French economy in world markets, and in the modernization of French society. The most powerful forces in contemporary society drive French arms making and selling: national security, welfare, modernization, and a profound concern for France's status in world affairs.

Strategic policy refers to the overall plan for the use or threat of force to shape the exterior political environment in ways considered to be congenial to the interests and values of the French nation and leadership. While arms production has always been a key component of French national strategy, arms transfers, until the modern period, have played a lesser role. This is not to denigrate the historical importance of arms transfers; the outcome of the American Revolution or World War I might well have been different without them. Rather, it is to recognize that arms transfers have never been as important a part of French national strategy as they are today. Their current significance stems from the broader conception of national security policy that governments today must adopt in comparison to the narrower view of defense held by their counterparts centuries ago.

National security today goes beyond the question of threatening or using force to include, given the destructive uses of modern weapons, strategies for its control and elimination. It also encompasses, certainly in French eyes, the maintenance of a welfare state, corporate profits, and personal gain. Out of these broader incentives arise the economic, technological, social, and political supports of a popularly based arms system. Arms production and transfers not only help to provide physical security and to project the nation's power and influence abroad, they also are used to promote economic growth, high employment, and at least a tolerable, if not always an equitable, division of economic wealth. Elites in control of these critical state functions have inevitably assumed increasing influence and sway over the allocation of inherently scarce national economic resources. These elites, defined by their technical, administrative, and industrial roles in making and selling arms, populate and dominate powerful new and broadly based structures fused indissolubly to the apparatus of the French state. The political support and legitimacy of the Fifth Republic also partially depend on the success of a new leadership class to maintain a competitive arms industry capable of simultaneously servicing France's welfare, security, and foreign policy goals and of motoring the modernization and the reform of French society. Arms transfers, as succeeding chapters describe, serve these varied functions. But the starting point is arms production itself which derives from the self-help, incipiently anarchical character of the modern state system.

Several lines of argument are advanced in the succeeding discussion: that the development of the French state and national armed forces are essentially coterminous; that the gradual emergence of a royal army and navy inevitably prompted a need for gradual state oversight, control, and eventual production of military equipment to arm national forces; that France has been in the war-making, war-implementing, and arms transfer business for centuries; that any departure from this pattern would entail an abandonment of France's pursuit of an independent foreign policy whose supportive and nurturing roots lie deep in French history and culture and in current French political practice and institutions; and that one of the principal determinants of French arms production and sales policy under the Fourth and Fifth Republics has been the drive for national independence, military autonomy, and a big power role in using and threatening force in the service of France's security and foreign policy interests.

Rise of the Modern French State and Arms Production: Origins to the Napoleonic Wars

The rise of France as a nation-state and its initial direction, first under the Capetian, then the Valois, and finally the Bourbon kings, have been almost as one with the history of France's armed forces and their armaments. While feudal armies in the service of the king largely provided their own weapons, produced by local artisans, the monarchy was not indifferent to the quality and effectiveness of the arms that were supplied. Geoffroy Martel, Phillippe-Auguste's chief of armed forces, pressed for up-to-date arms to meet the crown's needs. The English bow and crossbow, war machines, and rolling towers were introduced and became key parts of the crown's arms inventory. These efforts were rewarded in the victory at Bouvine in 1214.

As early as the fourteenth century, the crown assumed monopoly control over the production of powder. The right to make or buy powder was conferred upon masters in artillery who were placed eventually under the supervision of the king's Grand Master of Artillery, a post that continued to 1750. These efforts to ensure the crown's access to ground and naval armaments marked the first notable sallies of the French state into the direct fabrication of arms and munitions. Following the practices of the period, the design and manufacture were left largely to local artisans who produced weapons under royal tutelege.

The control of the crown also extended to the extraction and sale of saltpeter, essential to the early use of gunpowder. Only royal arsenals or authorized dealers could sell saltpeter. Francis I prohibited its export to assure the crown an adequate supply. For over 100 years the privilege of gathering this valued element was assigned to a special class, so-called fermiers généraux, who retained a monopoly over its collection almost to the time of the French Revolution. Responsibility for producing gunpowder and saltpeter was brought under state control during the revolutionary upheaval in a law passed in 1797 and kept in force for a century thereafter. It transformed those connected with these materials into state functionaries. The state-controlled system had several advantages: it assured supplies for French forces, controlled transfers to foreign states by crown officials, and provided profits from sales to enlarge the public treasury.

The production of hand weapons and firearms similarly fell under progressive state control. Corporations of master craftsmen were engaged to produce and sell arms. Regulations governing their work can be traced to the beginning of the fifteenth century. These corporations initially furnished weapons to individuals in the service of the crown and, later, with the creation of the embryo of a permanent army under Charles VII, directly to the king's own troops. Until the revolution, French arms production was insufficient to satisfy state demand. Extensive foreign purchases were made in Holland, Italy, and Germany to supplement national production. By the time of Louis XIV, efforts were in train to bring small arms production for export or private use under royal direction. These measures were not wholly successful. A report to the crown in 1637 noted that there were enough weapons in private hands to arm 40,000 men. Exercising control over these weapons and the ateliers where they were fabricated became a test of royal authority and was pursued with varying degrees of success and enthusiasm until the collapse of the ancien regime.

The production of heavy armaments, including artillery and mortars, was of particular interest to the French crown. The Grand Master of Artillery was responsible for supplying the crown's military forces with cannon, mounts, and equipment. These were largely produced by master iron forge craftsmen. A decentralized system of supply was organized in which many of these craftsmen were commissioned to produce heavy armor as part of their other commercial ventures. The feudal practice of obliging noblemen, owing fealty to the king, to supply their own arms was not without its inconveniences. It could guarantee neither an adequate supply of arms nor the safety of the crown against disgruntled nobles who were often better equipped than the French king.

From the time of Charles VIII in the fifteenth century, arsenals serving the crown were already operating in Lyon and Strasbourg. The first attempt at standardizing production was made by specifying bronze as the desired metal. Under Pierre Bessoneau and the brothers John and Gaspard Bureau, the French crown quickly drew abreast of England as the leading developer of artillery in Europe. Caissons were lightened and streamlined and gun calibers simplified. Louis XI carried this work forward. Iron cannonballs were employed and artillery calibers were reduced to increase the range of fire. Jean d'Estrées, Henry II's Grand Master of Artillery, created heavy and light sets of artillery pieces. Specifications were established for artillery. One-third of the crown's artillery was to be heavy cannon capable of firing projectiles between 15 to 33 pounds; the remaining two-thirds of light cannon were supposed to launch cannonballs of 1 to 7 pounds. Francis I had earlier constructed a foundry and munitions magazine in Paris which was placed under the direction of a private entrepreneur. This marks the first real attempt to develop an arsenal system devoted to crown needs. Henry II, the son of Francis I, extended the Paris works by creating a regional network of 14 arsenals to produce cannons, powder, and projectiles. The arquebus, employed extensively in the religious wars, gave way eventually to the lighter and more manipulable musket. Perfections were gradually introduced with the flintlock musket, and the pike was replaced during the reign of Louis XIV with what became the modern bayonet.

The standardization of equipment — caliber, shot, mountings, charge, and moving platforms — developed slowly. Often in battle, cannons issuing from different royal suppliers could not use interchangeable munitions even when the weapons ostensibly had the same caliber. Thanks to the initiative of Jean-Florent Vallière and Jean-Baptiste Gribeauval, private and public arsenals supplying the state became progressively more uniform in their production of heavy armaments. Valliere, the first inspector-general of the royal artillery (1732), regulated the form and bore of firing, standardized some manufacturing processes, and reduced gun calibers to five. Gribeauval introduced into France successful Prussian techniques in producing artillery pieces. Oversight was assured by the General Director of the Forges. A national system of heavy armaments was installed, covering field, siege, defense, and coastal artillery. Gribeauval's system, adopted in 1765, continued through the revolution and the Napoleonic period. The science of ballistics was also advanced by the crown in artillery schools organized in the aftermath of the Seven Years' War. It was first at Brienne, one of the most renowned of these technical schools, and later at the Paris Military School that Napoleon was trained as an artillery officer. The successes of French armies between 1792 and 1814 owe much to the legacy of the military engineers who had been servants of the crown.

The irregular but increasing control of the French state over naval construction and armament paralleled the expansion of its direction of small arms and artillery manufacture. A royal arsenal and shipbuilding system slowly developed, although it never fully replaced private works. Philip IV (Le Bel) erected the Clos de Galées on the Seine at Rouen to construct a royal fleet. The latter eventually grew to include 4 galleys, 24 sailing vessels, and 20 transport ships, supplemented by foreign vessels and the Norman commercial fleet. The rank of admiral was created in 1244. Philip VI and Charles V furthered the idea of a royal navy. Jean de Vienne, a minister of Charles V, built for the first time warships weighing over 300 tons mounted with heavy cannon.

Distracted by English occupation during the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) and by internal revolt, French kings in the fifteenth century were in no position to advance the development of a national navy. With the English at bay (though they held Calais until 1558) and domestic opposition on the defensive, Francis I was able to revive this effort by constructing the port at Le Havre and by building several major fighting vessels. Lack of funds prevented the erection of a fleet capable of challenging English sea power. Like his predecessors, Francis I relied on mercenaries, principally Turks and Italians, to harass English shipping. Henry II had more success in creating a royal fleet. With the assistance of Antoine Escalin, as admiral of France, Henry II commanded by 1548 a respectable fleet of 50 sailing vessels capable of transporting 10,000 men and naval cannon whose size and caliber were prescribed by the crown." Henry IV is credited with having rebuilt France's Mediterranean fleet leading to French naval dominance over the Spanish fleet during the reign of his son, Louis XIII (1610-1643).


Excerpted from Making and Marketing Arms by Edward A. Kolodziej. Copyright © 1987 Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

  • FrontMatter, pg. i
  • CONTENTS, pg. vii
  • LIST OF FIGURES, pg. ix
  • LIST OF TABLES, pg. x
  • PREFACE, pg. xiii
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS, pg. xviii
  • ABBREVIATIONS, pg. xxi
  • Chapter 1. From the Beginning through the Fourth Republic, pg. 1
  • Chapter 2. The Fifth Republic: National Independence, Military Autonomy, and a New World Order, pg. 54
  • Chapter 3. Economic and Technological Incentives to Make and Sell Arms, pg. 133
  • Chapter 4. National Champions and the French Fifth Republic, pg. 211
  • Chapter 5. The Politics of Arms Transfers: The Arms Oligarchy and Democratic Norms, pg. 239
  • Chapter 6. The Nation-State System and Modernization: Drive Wheels of Militarization, pg. 299
  • Chapter 7. Arms Transfers as Aim and Instrument, pg. 332
  • Chapter 8. Making and Marketing Arms: A Rational Strategy and an Irrational International System, pg. 395
  • NOTE ON SOURCES, pg. 409
  • APPENDIX A: French Arms Exports by Regions, Countries and Major Weapon Categories: 1960-1983, pg. 416
  • APPENDIX B: Selected Major Weapons Systems by Recipient Country: 1950-1983, pg. 432
  • APPENDIX C: Major Conventional Weapons Systems Delivered to the Third World by Major Suppliers, 1972-1981, pg. 436
  • APPENDIX D: Regional Distribution of Major Weapons Systems by Suppliers, 1972-1976, 1977-1981, pg. 442
  • NOTES, pg. 447
  • INDEX, pg. 499

Customer Reviews