Français, à Français, si vous saviez ce que le monde attend de vous! -- Georges Bernanos, La Battaile, July 26, 1945
This book has its origins in a question posed by the historian Alan Milward at the end of his provocative and pioneering work, The Reconstruction of Western Europe, 1945-1951." How did France," Milward asked, "starting from so weak a position in 1945 and pursuing such an unrealizable set of foreign-policy objectives, arrive at such a satisfactory long-term political and economic solution" to its internal and external problems? The thrust of Milward's argument suggested that French leaders, constantly faced with the threat of economic marginalization and political irrelevance in Europe, were forced "to consider a more distant horizon" than their counterparts in, say, Great Britain. French planners, faced with such a wide array of problems and able to draw upon so few resources, had to work that much harder to identify and achieve their postwar objectives. 1
Milward's insight prompted a number of questions. Could the French nation, internally divided, economically ruined, and institutionally feeble, truly have been capable of outlining a national strategy for domestic and international recovery? If so, who designed it? Where was it developed? What assumptions and priorities informed it? And did it in the end succeed? The concept of national strategy -- that is, an operational vision that employed all the resources of the nation to enhance and defend long-term national interests -- may seem out of place in contemporary French history. The term suggests unity, forethought, consensus, and sacrifice, words not often associated with the French Fourth Republic. Yet in this, as in many things, the Fourth Republic presents a striking paradox. For despite its weaknesses, France transformed itself in ten years from a divided and defeated country into one that possessed a dynamic economy, a great deal of political influence on the European continent, and a greater degree of security than it had yet known in the twentieth century. This book sets out to reconcile the record of France's
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Publication information: Book title: France Restored:Cold War Diplomacy and the Quest for Leadership in Europe, 1944-1954. Contributors: William I. Hitchcock - Author. Publisher: University of North Carolina Press. Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 1.