Courtesy Reuters

The French People and De Gaulle

What is the reaction of the French people to the politique de grandeur-the policy which, in the name of France, General de Gaulle is projecting on a world scale? Before this question can be answered we must first ask: How is French policy shaped and decided? Next, how is it made known to parliament and public opinion? Third, do the broad masses of the people have access to adequate and objective information on which to base their judgment of this policy? Only then can we turn to the question: What is their judgment?

A statesman who has been familiar with General de Gaulle's working methods for over 20 years offered this confidential description of how French foreign policy is made today: "When he deals with foreign policy, the General goes into seclusion and plunges into prolonged meditation. He seldom consults experts or advisers, even those very close to him. For a long time he mulls over the questions that need to be resolved. Then, suddenly, often without even informing his ministers, he announces his decision. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, and certainly the Council of Ministers, are called upon only to execute and apply the decision which the General made entirely by himself. There is usually no real debate on diplomatic issues within the Government." The men of Quai d'Orsay by and large confirm, albeit reluctantly, this description of the method which reduces them to the role of mere executants of orders from on high.

Once a decision has been made in the Elysée, there follows a fairly short period of briefing the leading French diplomats, a process which takes place in absolute secrecy. A very few men are acquainted with the General's over-all strategy: the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a handful of high officials whose rockbound Gaullism is a pledge of their discretion, the Minister of Information and sometimes the French Ambassador to the country to which the decision applies. That is all. There are generally no

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.