The main challenger to President Nicolas Sarkozy in the hard-fought French election contest that culminates in a few weeks is a man virtually unknown outside his own country – François Hollande. To the surprise of many people outside of France, the polling data has consistently shown the incumbent trailing his opponent, including in the widely expected situation in which election turns on a run-off between the two men. Long-time stalwart and one-time leader of the Socialist party, Hollande, 57, has had little international exposure during his decades as a French parliamentarian. So who is he? And if he is elected President, what is likely to change in U.S.-French relations or in France’s position inside the European Union?

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Is the Obama administration edging quietly towards an historic shift in U.S. national security strategy? Is a change in the works going far beyond the “pivot to Asia” and troop drawdown in Europe announced by the President in January as the first outcome of the Congressionally-mandated need to cut defense spending?

 

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In preparation for the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago this spring, The European Institute convened a distinguished panel on Decembereinatomtg1220113 15, 2011 to discuss the evolution of the U.S. – E.U.-NATO relationship. Antonella Cerasino, head of the NATO Countries Section in the Public Diplomacy Division at NATO; Ambassador Robert Hunter, Director of the Center for Transatlantic Security Studies at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University; Ambassador Kurt Volker, Managing Director and Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies; Brigadier General Bruno Caitucoli, Defense Attaché at the Embassy of France; and Rory Dunn, Political Counselor at the Delegation of the European Union in Washington participated. einatomtg1220112The discussion was moderated by Leo Michel, Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. The gist of issues explored by the EI forum’s far-ranging discussion is available here in a report by John Barry, written in compliance with Chatham House rules.

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