Download PDF by Phillip H. Gordon: A Certain Idea of France

By Phillip H. Gordon

As France starts to confront the recent demanding situations of the post-Cold conflict period, the time has come to envision how French protection coverage has developed considering Charles de Gaulle set it on an autonomous direction within the Sixties. Philip Gordon indicates that the Gaullist version, opposite to extensively held ideals, has lived on--but that its inherent inconsistencies have grown extra acute with expanding eu unification, the diminishing American army function in Europe, and similar traces on French army budgets. The query this present day is whether or not the Gaullist legacy will let a robust and assured France to play an entire function in Europe's new safeguard preparations or no matter if France, as a result of its will to independence, is destined to play an remoted, nationwide position. Gordon analyzes army doctrines, options, and budgets from the Sixties to the Nineties, and in addition the evolution of French coverage from the early debates approximately NATO and the ecu neighborhood to the Persian Gulf struggle. He finds how and why Gaullist principles have for therefore lengthy inspired French safety coverage and examines attainable new instructions for France in an more and more united yet very likely volatile Europe.

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De Gaulle also evolved where conditions dictated change by recognizing the “great civilization” of China (whereas he had previously denounced the “yellow hordes”), by understanding the revolutionary nature of nuclear weapons earlier than most, and by accepting and taking advantage of the Common Market he had once rejected. ”14 To impute to de Gaulle a rigid and unchanging view of the world is, thus, to overlook a key element of French policy during the first decade of PERSPECTIVES ON DE GAULLE 9 the Fifth Republic.

First, when studying Gaullist policy, the tactics and rhetoric made necessary by weakness must be taken into account. De Gaulle, in fact, knew how feeble a position he was in and only increased his obstinacy and will to compensate. 44 And as he said to Winston Churchill, “Where are my means? . ”45 Far from having the exaggerated sense of power for which he is often blamed, de Gaulle was all too aware of his weakness. Indeed, it is this very weakness that explains in part his desire to have his hands so free.

The belief in France’s universal mission often appeared to others as just the sort of hegemonic pretention of which the “superpowers” were accused by de Gaulle himself—de Gaulle’s Europe of states would fall under French hegemony in the same way an Atlantic Europe fell under American. ) It also implied a hierarchization of nation-states, with France, naturally, at or near the top. De Gaulle’s preoccupation with his own and his country’s stature gave the impression that he shirked international responsibilities and failed to see success in anything broader than a national perspective.

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