Review of International Studies

Research Article

Why don’t the French do Think Tanks?: France faces up to the Anglo-Saxon superpowers, 1918–1921



This article asks the question: ‘Why have the French not developed ‘‘think tanks’’?’ by looking at the period when such institutions were being set up in The UK and the United States, during the preparation for the Paris Peace Conference and its aftermath. It is suggested that the reasons were a mixture of French bureaucratic and intellectual disposition but also in a growing revulsion in Paris at what was seen as duplicity and conspiracy by its Allies to ignore the legitimate concerns and needs of the French people. The central source material used is the papers of the ‘Commission Bourgeois’ whose deliberations are often rather air brushed out of academic literature on the period and work done within the French Foreign Ministry.


* A first version of this article was presented in a panel at the International Studies Association in Chicago, February 2007. I would like to thank my fellow panel members for their comments, and in particular Inderjeet Parmar and Chris Hill. I would also like to thank several anonymous referees from the Review, one of whom was particularly helpful in clearing up my occasional errors and confusions, such as over the titles of personnel in the French Foreign Ministry.