La Grande Nation, la Grande Armée 1
Of course, France, among all the great nations which today have an army, is the only one to lose hers.
Charles de Gaulle, following the signature at Paris in May 1952 of the treaty instituting a European Defense Community. 2
This chapter examines the debate concerning the European Defense Community (EDC), an event described at the time by Le Monde in the following vein: "The rejection of the EDC by the National Assembly marks one of the most important stages in French political life and in the external situation since 1946-1947." 3
The paradox of the EDC can be summarized in this formulation: the EDC, conceived by some (though not all) Frenchmen to get around American insistence on German rearmament in the wake of the invasion of South Korea, was finally rejected by the French themselves--who almost immediately thereafter turned around and accepted essentially what the Americans had preferred at the beginning: a German Army as part of a sovereign German state within NATO. As Raymond Aron noted apropros of the EDC, in his "Historical Sketch of a Great Ideological Quarrel,""Thus, the end of the story ironically contradicted the beginning; the National Assembly ended up by preferring the solution that the American Government had proposed in 1950 to the solution proposed by the French Government."4
This is the key paradox among others in this drama, which lasted from the autumn of 1950 until the end of 1954. And it was in its protractedness that the EDC was destined to fail and at the same time to become transformed into something else. In the final analysis, and at the end of these four years, the