A Question of Self-Esteem: The United States and the Cold War Choices in France and Italy, 1944-1958

By Alessandro Brogi | Go to book overview

4

Mastering Interdependence? Status, Nationalism, and the European Army Plan

To David K.E. Bruce, the most francophile American ambassador to Paris since Thomas Jefferson, the glory of France seemed to shine in all its splendor again in May of 1950. Elated at Robert Schuman's proposal for a European coal and steel pool, he praised France for having resumed “[her] natural leadership” of the Continent, becoming a “standard to which her neighbors might rally.” The French plan was the first convincing demonstration that “nationalism [was] not the main spring of all action” anymore in Europe, as Secretary of State Acheson rejoiced a year later, and that a “new loyalty” toward continental integration was emerging. Such loyalty was not to detract from national distinction, as General Eisenhower reminded Charles de Gaulle in April 1952, a few weeks before the treaty for a European Defense Community (EDC) was signed in Paris. By taking the flag of European unity, the NATO commander added seductively, France would prove “her long tradition of bold and imaginative leadership.” Such prestige would also provide security, for France “would never fear the Germans” within a federation that “she had brought about.” 1

Several studies on this phase of European integration concede that prestige was a major impulse behind France's and Italy's choices. But the analysis of such matters of prestige has been confined to the domestic dimension, stressing the two nations' internal divisions on issues of national sovereignty as the prime cause of the EDC failure. 2

In works that place the EDC debate within the international context, however, the issue of prestige, or status, becomes elusive. The main narrative

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