The Army and the Fifth Republic

The Army and the Fifth Republic

The Army and the Fifth Republic

The Army and the Fifth Republic

Excerpt

During the month of May, 1958, French army troops and tanks appeared in Paris, a novel and conspicuous sight on the Parisian boulevards and squares. They had been ordered into position by the government to meet the threat of invasion posed by French army units in Algeria. However, it was not clear whether the defenders would fight the invaders if they came or join them, for France's army was no longer trustworthy. The meeting never took place; the government fell without an invasion and the army's choice, Charles de Gaulle, assumed the leadership of France.

Civilian control of the military had been a well-established tradition in France, yet in 1958, the army was instrumental in the destruction of the Fourth Republic and later attempted to dictate policy to its successor. Ultimately, activist elements of the army, spurred by the despair born of observing De Gaulle adopt a course contrary to their interpretation of the national interest, rose against the Fifth Republic in a futile but spectacular putsch in 1961.

"What happened in France," one is impelled to ask, "to lead the army from its apolitical tradition to overt political action? How did it attempt to influence, even direct, French policy?" Politically ambitious and active armies are generally associated with underdeveloped nations, but France's experience suggests that the technologically backward and politically unsophisticated are not unique in falling prey to overt military political action. Under what conditions, then, may a politically pretentious army appear in a modern nation? What will drive military men to defy their civilian masters? Once having developed a political consciousness, how will they attempt to influence national policy? What factors and conditions will affect achievement or failure of an army's political initiatives? These questions are basic concerns of this . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.