Since the 1960s wave of African independence, whenever political arrangements fail to fulfill their intended purposes, the French response to deviant actors has resulted in over 100 French military interventions in Africa with stabilizing consequences in some cases and destabilizing outcomes in others. French logic for intervention has been two-fold: reactionary and preventive. The reactionary mode is to maintain the status quo with France as regional hegemon in sub-Saharan Africa and as major player in the global arena.
The preventive mode is to deter competitors and outside threats to its national interests in the region. It is a model of an economy of forces whereby soft and hard power are combined and deployed to achieve results with maximum efficiency and minimum resources. More than half a century after independence, Francophone sub-Saharan Africa virtually functions as an extension of France’s national territory. This illustrates the fact that actual boundaries of nations depend less on physical size than on influence and the capacity of force projection. France’s role in world affairs exemplifies this assertion.