Oldest Allies, Guarded Friends: The United States and France since 1940

By Charles G. Cogan | Go to book overview

alliance between the Gaullists and the Communists, there could not have been formed at that time a solid bloc of anti-EDC forces against the will of the United States. For the general, it was his first victory on the world stage in the postwar period, after his self-eviction from power at the beginning of 1946.

In the "Franco-French" context, de Gaulle was the essential victor in the vote of August 30, 1954, which rejected an overpowering supranationality for France. But in the military vein France had to swallow at the end of the year the pill of reinforcement of the military structure of NATO accompanied, in theory at least, by an arms-control regime from which the British were exempted.

Throughout the EDC affair France was regarded in Washington as the key but at the same time not having the right to a favored treatment, unlike Great Britain. The same discrimination appeared in the 1960s in the affair of the Multilateral Force (MLF), a sort of EDC elevated to the nuclear level.

Once having arrived in power, de Gaulle tried to put an end to this British exemption, 77 without success. He then proceeded to undo the existing structures of military integration and at the same time to resist American efforts to strengthen them. Before the end of his tenure he arrived at his goal, taking France out of the integrated military command of NATO while at the same time remaining in the Atlantic alliance as a sort of odd man out. In so doing, de Gaulle finally achieved the theoretical parity (albeit a negative one) that had been lost by the defeat of 1940 but had existed before--particularly during World War I, when France, until near the end of the war, was the superior partner in the Allied camp. And the repeated references of de Gaulle to French grandeur, held up to ridicule, whether through ignorance or not, by Roosevelt and others who followed him, stemmed exactly from this earlier reality of World War I.

It was not very far, at the end of the debate on the EDC, from the collapse of the Fourth Republic. The weakness of the French system, of its "legicentrism," had been exposed time and again. An editorial in Le Monde at the time drew a philosophical lesson of the EDC affair: "As long as France has not been able to provide itself the means of adopting an individual policy [une politique personnelle] on those matters that are for her of vital interest, she should not blame anyone but herself."78

And the day was awaited when someone could impose "une politique personnelle" for "notre dame la France." 79


NOTES
1.
La Grande Nation: term applied to France during the Revolution. La Grande Armée: Napoleon's army.
2.
Statement of June 6, 1952, Charles de Gaulle, Discours et Messages ( Geneva: Editions Edito-Service, 1970), 4:202.
3.
Le Monde, September 1, 1954, 1.

-95-

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Oldest Allies, Guarded Friends: The United States and France since 1940
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Note xii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 17
  • 2 - The Falling Out 19
  • Notes 49
  • 3 - The Turning Point 55
  • Notes 71
  • 4 - La Grande Nation, La Grande Armée1 75
  • Notes 95
  • 5 - The Reversal 99
  • Notes 117
  • 6 - The Multilateral Force: The Two Hegemons 121
  • Notes 146
  • 7 - Posthumous Coronation and Détente: The Year of Europe 151
  • Notes 172
  • 8 - Euro-Corps: Return of the Ambivalences 177
  • Notes 195
  • 9 - Epilogue: by Default of Enemies? 199
  • Notes 215
  • Selected Bibliography 219
  • Index 227
  • About the Author 235
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