Beyond the miltary-industrial complex. The role of a sectoral elite in the Leclerc’s tank program
In contrast to the abundant Anglo-American literature, little research exists in France on defense policy in general and arms procurement decisions in particular. If we seek to import models from the English-language literature, we are led to investigate the presence of a « military-industrial complex » in France. Through the study of a specific armament policy, the development and production of the Leclerc main battle tank, we rule out the existence of a « conscious, coherent, and conspiratorial » elite. Behind this program, we do indeed find an elite group, but its existence is a result of the program itself. Due to the cold war context and the Gaullist policy of national autonomy, a group of actors benefit ed from relative autonomy to set down the bases of a belief in the necessity and possibility of building the best tank in the world. The program and the elite group that sponsored it reinforced each other and succeeded in sustaining the Leclerc project after the end of the cold war context that had initially justified it. The formation of programmatic elites of this kind is one of the characteristics of the new democratic governance.