Unsettled States, Disputed Lands: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank-Gaza

By Ian S. Lustick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
The Algerian Question in French Politics, 1955-1962

In 1838 Algeria's conqueror, Marshal Thomas-Robert Bugeaud, foreshadowed the need for two distinct kinds of analyses of French-Algerian relations when he told the Chamber of Deputies that he saw "no prospect of a government strong enough to get out of Algeria, even if such a step were indicated by the trend of events there." Since France was politically too weak to leave Algeria, the only alternative, Bugeaud continued, was "total domination." 1 But as we have seen in Chapters 4 and 5, France also failed to dominate Algeria by establishing French rule of the country on a hegemonic basis. In this sense, following Bugeaud, France was not only too weak to leave Algeria, but also too weak to stay. In this chapter, Bugeaud's line of analysis is continued, although applied not to France but to the regime of the Fourth Republic. As things turned out, the regime was unable to keep Algeria part of France, but also too weak to separate France from Algeria and survive. In other words, the Fourth Republic was, à la Bugeaud, an obstacle to the production "of a government strong enough to get out of Algeria," even when such a step was indicated "by the trend of events there." 2

This chapter's point of departure is the emergence of the question of Algeria onto the French political agenda. Its purposes, analogous to Chapter 6's treatment of the Irish question in Britain from 1886 to 1922, are to establish the changing scale of political disruption in France following the failure of the Algéerie française hegemonic project and to demonstrate that the pattern of these changes corresponds to the Guttman-scale expectations of my two-threshold model. In Chapter 8 the differences in the outcomes of the Ireland- and Algeria-related wars of maneuver in Britain

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