France and Transatlantic Relations
Strasbourg was the venue for France’s formal reintegration, after over forty years, into NATO’s integrated military structures in early April 2009. This is the most recent key development in a Franco-American relationship that has been colorful, certainly, often turbulent, and characterized more often than not in the contemporary general psyche, in public at least, by competition more than cooperation. This latter perception, primarily associated with General Charles de Gaulle’s presidential tenures at the Elysée from the late 1950s through the 1960s, was reasserted in 2003 when President Jacques Chirac’s France vehemently and vocally opposed the American-led invasion of Iraq. However, in the last third of the eighteenth century, the initial formalization of Franco-American relations could have been associated with the crucial French military, notably naval, support, albeit for national strategic reasons, for the American colonists successful bid for independence from British rule.
In European terms, the nineteenth century marked a general decline in French power and influence, from the apogee of Napoleon Bonaparte’s conquests to the humiliation of Napoleon III’s defeat by Bismarck’s Prussia at Sedan in 1870. The newly created state of Germany would then humble France twice more in successive world wars in the first half of the twentieth century. Concerning the transatlantic dimension, the latter two military defeats were certainly blamed by many in France on US tardiness in intervening on the