Politics in Gaullist France: Coping with Chaos

By Charles Hauss | Go to book overview

7
Foreign Policy and the Pursuit of Grandeur

To most Americans, French foreign policy under the Gaullists hardly seems like a model of coherence or effectiveness. After 1958, the French turned their backs on what had seemed to us a logical and consistent policy of support for the western alliance in favor of the seemingly irrational pursuit of independence in a world dominated by the two superpowers.

Foreign policy under the Gaullists, however, was neither inconsistent nor irrational. In fact, it is one of the best examples to illustrate the argument being made here about the ability of Fifth Republic governments to take abstract Gaullist notions of grandeur and turn them into effective public policy. De Gaulle's entire political philosophy and sense of mission revolved around ending those failures and restoring France to its "proper" place among the world's major powers--and that is largely what the Gaullists did.

American and other critics find French foreign policy perplexing and incoherent, because they fail either to understand or accept its fundamental premises. Those goals changed dramatically in 1958 and in many ways did clash with both our "scientific" and normative preconceptions about what foreign policy could or should be in the second half of the twentieth century.

That, however, is not the issue here. One need not agree with the Gaullists' goals or actions to accept the argument being made here. Rather, it is important simply to see that, for the first time in at least a century, French governments were able to define and pursue a reasonably coherent foreign policy.

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Politics in Gaullist France: Coping with Chaos
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Acronyms xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Part One THE PROBLEM 1
  • 1: Chaos and Coping 3
  • Part Two BUILDING BLOCKS 25
  • 3: The New Republic 27
  • 4: De Gaulle, the Presidency, and the Republic 41
  • 5: The Party System 55
  • Part Three SUCCESS 69
  • 6: Stability for Growth 71
  • 7: Foreign Policy and the Pursuit of Grandeur 83
  • 8: The Economy 97
  • Part Four THE NEW PROBLEMS 113
  • 9: Cumulative Inequalities 115
  • Notes 127
  • 10: Centralization and Alienation 129
  • Part Five CONCLUSIONS 143
  • 11: Curing the Evils of Faction Gallic Style 145
  • 12: The Evils of Curing the Evils of Faction 159
  • References 169
  • Index 179
  • About the Author 183
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