The Hollow Order
Rebuilding an International System That Works
Three years after having signed a treaty of coöperation with Dr. Adenauer, designed to make the marriage of France and Germany the foundation for the regrouping of Europe, General de Gaulle has travelled to the Soviet Union to talk of rediscovered friendship, agreement and even "alliance" between the "new France" and the "new Russia." Now the latter, pending information to the contrary, is the principal adversary of the German Federal Republic, and the Soviet leaders do not hide the fact that they look upon the rapprochement with Paris as a means of gaining support against German "revanchism." We may therefore be permitted to question the degree of coherence in the foreign policy of the Fifth Republic and to wonder whether such changes of course-there are other examples-cannot be best explained by psychological factors, the first of them being excessive amour propre.
On the subject of travels, it is worth remarking that de Gaulle has won acclaim successively in Great Britain, the United States, Germany, Latin America and now in the U.S.S.R., to say nothing of Iran, Greece, Ethiopia and Cambodia (and way stations where, had he stopped, he could have been sure of just as warm a reception), and all along the line has achieved very concrete political results. It is tempting to speculate that the great "loner," undaunted by the grimness of the times, the size of his country and the lack of discipline of his fellow citizens, is, in the twilight of life, deliberately trying to drive out melancholy with applause. One of his ministers, in fact, compared the invigorating effect which cheering crowds have on him to the effect upon Anteus of contact with the earth.
How vast, indeed, must be the General's satisfaction in finding himself triumphally received by all those countries which during the war had made him so aware of France's weakness and his own lack of influence: Germany, which crushed France 25 years ago in the belief it would keep the victory for a thousand years; England and the United States, which one day in 1943, in Algiers, reminded him through Harold Macmillan that without them he was "nothing;" and finally the U.S.S.R., on which he had based hopes of strengthening his position vis-à-vis the Anglo-Saxons, a plan for which a cynical Stalin showed complete indifference.
Churchill said he had never met a man "so occupied with his own fortune." But could de Gaulle have associated enough of his countrymen with that fortune to achieve success unless it had been identified with the fate of a nation which not without reason chose the cock for her emblem? The arrogance of the President of the Republic is disagreeable and even incomprehensible to his allies; but it is not the arrogance of an isolated man, otherwise it would be only ridiculous. It is the arrogance of a man who is not resigned to anything which writes finis to a nation about which history has spoken without a break for a thousand years. There is nothing at all surprising, then, in the fact that this is the man who on June 18, 1940, rebelled against the legal government of France, determined in the name of French legitimacy to carry on alone the fight against the invader, arid who today has pulled the French Army out of the Atlantic command. Beyond his disconcerting fits of bad humor has been the same primary objective for 20 years-to promote, in spite of or against anything and everybody, the independence of his country.
One cannot comprehend such a degree of determination unless, without dwelling too much on the man's psychic nature, one really understands his political philosophy. For him, nations are the fundamental reality of history and the essential task of political leaders is to defend the national patrimony against all who think of infringing it.
His is opposed to the prevailing philosophy of the last half-century which considers nationality less important than the system of government and requires that it dissolve in great supranational combinations in order to ensure the dominance of all who share the same ideology. From this concept flows both Marxism ("the proletariat has no country," the U.S.S.R. is "the fatherland of socialism") and the organizations planned to foil it-NATO and the European communities. But in de Gaulle's words, "the banner of ideology in reality only cloaks ambitions. And I believe it has been thus since the world was born." Ideologies are, moreover, transitory, while the fact of the nation endures-and with it the fundamental rivalries, born of geography and nourished by history, which have made the planet up to now a juxtaposition of battlefields, with war extinguished in one spot only to be rekindled in another. For centuries, the House of Austria, then Prussia, sought to dominate Europe, while Britain ruled the seas and prevented the formation of a continental empire. Today the United States has taken England's place, which explains why Britain finds herself so at ease in America's wake. Stalinist Russia took up the goals of the Tsars: warm-water ports, lands in Asia to feed her people, a buffer in the West to compensate for the lack of mountain or river barriers and protect against the contagion of liberal ideas. As for France, whether monarchist, revolutionary, Bonapartist or republican, she has always strained to reach her natural frontiers, the Rhine, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and to secure overseas sources of raw materials and outlets for her industrial products.
De Gaulle, like all French military chiefs, was brought up in this school. At the moment of Liberation his first priority was to install France permanently on the Rhine. Just as Poincaré sent Doumergue to St. Petersburg a few weeks before the fall of Tsarism to try to obtain the support of Nicholas II for a similar claim, so de Gaulle as early as 1944 did not hesitate to recognize the Oder-Niesse line in the vain hope of obtaining in exchange Stalin's support for the rectification of the Rhine frontier. Traditional historians have always considered the existence of a centralized Reich a powerful threat to France, and looked on the Treaty of Westphalia, which according to Jacques Bainville set up "anarchy under our protectorate" in Germany, as a triumph of French diplomacy. Hence it is not surprising that de Gaulle vetoed the reconstitution of a centralized administration in Germany at the end of 1945, as decided in principle by the Big Three in application of the Potsdam agreements.
After great effort he obtained a minor rectification of the Alpine frontier and decided to withdraw his troops from the Val d'Aosta, an Italian province mainly inhabited by French-speaking people, only as a result of strong pressure from Truman. He drowned in blood an insurrection in the Algerian province of Kabylia at the very moment of V-Day. In the same period he called in the British Ambassador to protest Churchill's ruthless summons to the French forces to evacuate Syria, and said to him unsmilingly: "If I could, I would declare war on you." And finally, legitimately outraged over what Roosevelt and Stalin had decided, without consulting him, about the fate of Indochina, he rushed an expeditionary force there to reëstablish French sovereignty.
Again, in 1947, he could not find hard enough words to condemn the law drawn up by the Fourth Republic which would have given Algeria a distinct "personality." "Any policy," he exclaimed, "which under the false pretext of an evolution in reverse would have the effect of leading the French Muslims to believe they could separate their destiny from that of France would only open the door to decadence."
This is a far cry from the emancipator of Algeria, the "liberal" acclaimed by the Third World and the Communist bloc, the man who denounces, in terms which President Roosevelt would not have disavowed, the vanity of all attempts to oppose the right of self-determination and particularly of the efforts of the United States to decide the fate of Viet Nam by arms.
How could such a transformation have come about? No doubt because nationalism does not have the reactionary content for de Gaulle which it appeared for a time to have in France as a result of the Dreyfus affair and the activity of the Action Française and Maurice Barrès. It would have been different if in 1938 he had not found himself in agreement with the Communists and the U.S.S.R., and opposed to almost the entire French bourgeoisie, in condemning the Munich accords. When he came to London as head of the Free French and found that the politicians, the military chiefs, the governors-general of the colonies one after another disregarded his appeals, he of necessity had to accept whatever aid was offered him, including that of Freemasons, Jews, pacifists and anti-militarists-to a point where others of his caste would have been incapable of overcoming their aversion. Before long some Communists joined him. It was then that he discovered, if he had not previously, that patriotism is not a monopoly of any party, family or class; and it was then that he conceived the ambition to be the heir to the whole of the national past-Jacobin as well as monarchist-and to be so far as possible the undisputed arbiter of a nation whose pluralistic tradition and attachment to fundamental liberties he so much respected. There is, then, nothing surprising in the fact that there exist today Gaullists of the right and Gaullists of the left,
Their alliance would be impossible did not the defense of the nation coincide, in the General's conception, with the accomplishment of its historic mission and thus take on an essentially moral and civilizing character. He sees France, like the poet Edmond Rostand before him, with the traits of a "legendary princess": nothing she does can be base or contrary to the general interest of all men.
"My country, right or wrong," say the English. It is clear that for de Gaulle, his country cannot be wrong. Just as some Americans can hardly believe that what is good for General Motors might not be good for all humanity, the President of the Republic believes that what France, through him, desires is the true expression of what the world needs. He goes even further and attributes any resistance his policies may encounter to stupidity or malice. No doubt a regrettable attitude, but one which Americans should be in a good position to understand. . . .
In different circumstances de Gaulle probably would not hesitate to put other means in the service of the civilizing mission which, crusader that he is, he assigns to his country. But though by passion possessed, he is also an intellectual, a philosopher seeking to perceive the deep currents of the world's evolution; and more than once he has succeeded. He fully grasped the consequences of the advent of nuclear weapons, which forbid anyone with any sense from having recourse to war as a means to his ends, even the most legitimate ends. As we have increasingly seen, especially in the course of the recent trip to the U.S.S.R., the officer who once affirmed that "history is written with the sword" now realizes that the best human energies ought to be directed to other tasks. In any case, he does not aspire to possess the world but-something no more modest-to show it the way.
Such an ambition obviously only strengthens his determination to defend the national heritage against all comers, friends and enemies. Indeed, how could he be satisfied if his freedom of action were founded on something affected, "put on," if his voice were not purely French? His passion for independence may perhaps reveal the self-love of the prima donna, but also the consciousness of the role his country can and must play in the world if it is to be true to itself.
France had never found herself so dependent on the good will-or ill will-of others as when de Gaulle came to power for the first time. The Third Republic had been accustomed in the 1930s to do nothing except in agreement with London, which did not always return the favor. The 1940 defeat seemed to leave no choice between dependence on Germany and the protection of England. General de Gaulle's audacity, which most of his countrymen did not perceive for a long time, was to refuse either alternative. Although he was based in London and completely dependent on Great Britain for funds, propaganda facilities and equipment for his troops, he refused all allegiance and did not change this attitude until he had regained complete independence of action. This explains his incessant conflicts, first with Churchill, then with Roosevelt, and his many efforts, revealed in Soviet documents published in 1959, to find a counterweight in Moscow to "Anglo- Saxon" influence. Suspecting, as he writes in his war memoirs, that "the so- called parallel undertakings" of Britain and America were actually centrifugal in that they would reach out into the French overseas territories, he was delighted to obtain the assurance from Molotov that, in the Soviet view, it was around him that "all the French should group themselves for the relief of France." He considered it of equal significance that "Moscow recognized that no foreign government, even the Soviet, had the right to detach" the resistance movements from his command.
A little later, fearing an American landing at Dakar and a British occupation of Niger without the participation of the Free French, he went so far as to say to the Soviet representative, Bogomolov, that in that event he would break with London, and he requested him to ask Moscow if he could then install himself and his troops in Russia. When he visited Stalin in December 1944, the only satisfaction he obtained-though he prized it-was that the Franco-Soviet pact would be distinct from the Anglo-Soviet alliance and not, as Moscow and London would have liked, a simple extension of that alliance.
France having been liberated and de Gaulle voted into power, it was not to be expected that he would put himself at the service of any of the victorious powers, especially when it became clear that none of them intended him to have any part in the Yalta and Potsdam deliberations, which would shape the postwar world. There is nothing improbable in Alexander Werth's thesis that one of the reasons he dropped the reins of government in 1946 was that he saw the impossibility of a country as exhausted as France achieving economic recovery and security in the face of Soviet expansion without becoming more or less dependent on America.[i]
So it was inevitable that he, for one, would have no part of it, but would remain indefinitely the symbol of a France that had not yet surrendered any part of her sovereignty. This perhaps explains his attitude during the great debates of the Fourth Republic which decided the direction of French diplomacy. Not forgotten, certainly, is the hostility he showed to all forms of European integration, seeing them only as a means of making France forever dependent on American protection; nor the decisive role he played in the National Assembly's rejection of the European Defense Community. Less remembered, because they were ineffective, were his unequivocal condemnations of the International Authority for the Ruhr, the division of Germany into zones, the creation of the Federal Republic or the formation of Euratom. But these categorical positions only threw into relief his silence, at least in public, in the face of some fundamental options: armistice in Indochina, the Algerian War, German rearmament, Suez. His partisans were apparently left without instructions and so were often divided, with the result that the Assembly approved Atlantic policies which otherwise would have been defeated. It was as if de Gaulle had decided not to oppose an inevitable trend but refused to consider it definitive and, in any case, did not intend to bear any responsibility for it.
Upon his return to power in 1958, he cleared up the ambiguities. The Atlantic Alliance, he said, is "actually necessary/' but France does not intend to "confine herself to it." He began to restore full freedom of action to his government, still without endangering the security or the values of Western civilization, for which he always proclaimed his attachment.
It was not an easy job. The Fourth Republic was a prey to chronic inflation and had made itself financially dependent on the United States to the point where most premiers, as soon as they had successfully formed a government, had to go and solicit Washington's blessing in the form of new credits. It had barely succeeded in extracting itself from the hornet's nest in Indochina when it was caught in the war in Algeria, which drained away more and more French resources in human life, energy and finances. As was made plain at the United Nations, almost the entire weight of world public opinion was hostile. France was in truth the sick man of Europe.
The Fourth Republic had turned over the keys of its defense to an American commander-in-chief, dependent on the decisions of the American Government, and was on the way to turning over the keys to its economy to a supranational European community. It had not, however, transferred its sovereignty in any absolute or definitive way. It had loudly proclaimed its adherence to the ideal of European federation, yet it had consistently held that the world-wide responsibilities of France precluded its disappearing into a supranational Europe. It had gotten the production of its own atomic bomb under way, thwarted projects for a European army and constituent assembly, and, for all its lack of power, had not accepted American terms for the installation of missile launching-sites or American atomic stockpiles on its soil.
In order to assure his freedom of movement, therefore, de Gaulle did not have to take drastic steps on the spot. He could even preserve the essentials of the legal framework inherited from the Fourth Republic. After all, the rule of unanimity prevailed in the Atlantic pact and would still prevail for a long time in the European Economic Community; and if he was displeased by certain provisions in the treaties to which France had agreed, he could reasonably work to revise or circumvent them rather than come out with a denunciation which would have contradicted his notion of faithfulness to a promise.
The crisis in the Middle East in July 1958 gave him the first chance to show his independence. The United States having taken upon itself to land Marines in Lebanon, long an area of French influence, without asking his opinion, he rejected a proposal for a meeting of the Security Council agreed upon by Eisenhower, Macmillan and Khrushchev. When a few weeks later another crisis, in the Straits of Formosa, seemed to him to endanger the peace of Europe-also without his having a word to say-he sent Eisenhower and Macmillan the famous memorandum calling for the establishment among the three great Western powers of a general directorate of the alliance on a global scale. That directorate should have the duty, he thought, of making strategic plans to meet any conceivable crisis and if need be to decide whether to use nuclear weapons.
If that proposal had been followed, France would in the final analysis have secured a privileged role in the Western Alliance comparable to that already held by Great Britain. Needless to say, this would have been very satisfying to General de Gaulle, who had devoted a chapter of his memoirs to his efforts to give France a standing among nations commensurate with her historic and moral patrimony. But if one recalls the international climate of the period, it is clear that he did not have considerations of prestige in mind so much as concern to preserve French freedom of action in case of serious conflict outside the Atlantic area. His attempt inevitably failed.
The General's other steps to assure France's freedom of action met with better success. Through vigorous monetary measures, the credit for which goes largely to the first Finance Minister of the Fifth Republic, Antoine Pinay (somewhat cavalierly dismissed afterwards), the debtor nation became a holder of important reserves of strong currencies, in a position to free itself of a considerable part of its obligations. By straightening out the country's finances, de Gaulle put an end to the chronic governmental instability and rid France of her reputation for irresolution and impotence. To a degree not achieved in any other Western country, de Gaulle virtually freed diplomacy from subservience to internal politics. When he decided-not without violence to his temperament and education-to emancipate not only black Africa but also the departments of Algeria, which had been an integral part of French territory for 130 years and the basis of the platform on which he had stood since 1943, he conquered the hearts of the Third World, which knows no greater hero than a man who combines strength and magnanimity.
Before announcing on December 31, 1963, that for the first time in almost 30 years France truly had "her hands free," he needed to reconsider the various delegations of sovereignty accepted by the Fourth Republic. Europe was the principal beneficiary. As early as 1958 he had had plans drawn up for the revision of the Community treaties which were never, incidentally, to get beyond the planning stage. In 1960 he proposed to the heads of government of the Six a "political union," which among other things would have put the essentially "supranational executives under the authority of the Council of Ministers, made up of members of the individual governments. This plan was finally rejected, but de Gaulle took his revenge in 1965 by forcing his partners to give up for the time being the application of majority rule, scheduled by the Treaty of Rome to come into effect on January 1, 1967, beginning the third stage of the Common Market. To save the Community which he threatened to blow to pieces, they likewise agreed in fact if not in law to strip the High Authority and the commissions of many of their prerogatives. With more reason, the Elysée opposed any enlargement of the powers of the European Parliament (which, incidentally, it refused to call by that name) as well as election to it by universal suffrage. Finally-and there is no reason to be particularly proud of it- France never ratified the European covenant of the rights of man, which permits any citizen of a country belonging to the Council of Europe to appeal to the European court in case of violation of his rights as an individual, provided he has exhausted all national means of redress.
Playing the same game with NATO, the General had already warned Washington and London in his memorandum of 1958 that if his proposition of a three- power directorate was not acted upon he would suspend the development of French participation in that organization. In this spirit, he refused any stockpiles of American nuclear weapons, and any participation in the various collective nuclear armaments plans, from the Gates Plan of 1960 through the Nassau Agreements to the M.L.F. In 1959, beginning with the navy, he started the process of withdrawing French forces from the integrated command, completed in 1966.
Finally, although it is difficult to speak seriously of membership in the United Nations as a delegation of sovereignty, France's participation in that organization has also been subject to revision. During the Korean War the French Government had associated itself with the Acheson plan to permit the General Assembly, whenever the Security Council was paralyzed by the veto, to act in its place by a two-thirds majority. Under de Gaulle the Quai d'Orsay has consistently sought a return to the status quo ante-in other words, to the primacy of the Security Council, where France has had the right of veto from the outset. Thus she does not risk becoming involved in operations against her will. Similarly, when de Gaulle refused to help finance the deficit resulting from the Congo intervention, which he had not approved, he acted not so much from ill-humor as from a settled prejudice which leads him to deplore the attitude of all those who look forward to the advent of a world order.
If one adds to this the ongoing development of a national nuclear arsenal designed to ensure the national security in any hypothetical case (the "minimum deterrent" theory), as well as various gestures such as the refusal to participate in the disarmament conference or to meet with the President of the United States, the recognition of the Chinese People's Republic or the trip to Moscow, no one can really dispute the fact that de Gaulle has fully succeeded in attaining his primary goal and that he has achieved complete independence for his country-or, if one wishes, for himself, which in his mind is the same thing.
Independence to do what? Couve de Murville, whom I once asked this question, replied without hesitation, "Independence is an end in itself." No doubt he thereby faithfully expressed his master's thought. But for de Gaulle, who has written that "to be great means to keep up a great quarrel," it is self-evident that national independence cannot be viewed only in its negative aspect of refusal to be dependent, and that it demands an active, constructive and original policy, the antithesis of "neutralism," the term by which superficial analysts have presumed to summarize it.
By "disengagement" of "blocs," de Gaulle means that France is to play her role world-wide. He is persuaded that history and geography have separated the nations which must be satisfied with a purely regional role from those with a global calling, and he has no doubt that France, which retains a presence in the five continents-directly or through the play of her alliances and friendship treaties-is justified in counting herself among the latter. In support of the contention, he can point to the fact of permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council, accorded in the San Francisco Charter, as well as membership in the "nuclear club." And he constantly emphasizes that, provided Peking is given the Chinese seat on the Security Council, its five permanent members are the five nuclear powers. His conclusion is that these powers have special responsibilities to keep the peace. Paradoxically, this comes close to the Rooseveltian conception of the "policemen of the world"-with the difference, of course, that in F.D.R.'s estimation they were limited to three, France belonging among the nations authorized to possess only rifles. Yet for these "policemen" to ensure that peace reigns they must be agreed among themselves, which evidently is not quite the case today.
If de Gaulle takes a somewhat pessimistic view of human nature, and of the nature of states (about which he wrote in his memoirs that "there is nothing in the world less disinterested"), he is deeply convinced that the advent of nuclear weapons has completely altered the rules of competition by eliminating all hope of gain by direct confrontation. The first condition for the normalization of the international atmosphere, consequently, is the renunciation of the use of threat. Though he does not believe there is the faintest chance this will actually occur, he was certainly in the forefront of those advocating firmness when Khrushchev used intimidation, even going so far as to veto the proposed negotiations with Moscow on Berlin favored by Washington and London. It is this same skepticism about the expediency of recourse to force which has led him repeatedly to express the conviction that the United States stands no chance of victory in Viet Nam by military means. In his opinion, the only reasonable solution to the conflict is one which would result in South Viet Nam being "neither American nor Chinese." Since he is convinced, perhaps wrongly, that France has preserved considerable influence in that part of the world, he has not given up hope of playing the mediator, either alone or together with the U.S.S.R., whose views seem to him very close to his own.
If, however, he may for a time have exaggerated the chances of ending the conflict, he no longer harbors any illusions; he expects positive results to evolve only very slowly. No normalization will be possible, however, if the place which China deserves, by its sheer size and its ancient culture, is not recognized. The Communists could have been kept from consolidating their régime in 1950 if MacArthur had been let alone, as de Gaulle himself advocated. But today one cannot pretend with a straight face that the legitimate Chinese government rests on Formosa while Mao, without anybody's help, stands up to the world. The exacerbated violence of the Chinese leaders, which is mostly verbal, is explained in large part by their continued ostracism, which by the way is parallel to the earlier treatment of Communist Russia. In order to modify their behavior and guide them toward the rational view of things which the Kremlin now holds, they must be given the chance to realize, little by little, in daily intercourse, how mistaken they are about the real intentions of the Western world. It was largely to this end that France recognized China, doubtless hoping to start a trend.
Similarly, Paris does its best to encourage the neutralism of the Indochinese states, to prove to the powers and to the Vietnamese themselves that neutralism is a perfectly viable policy when it is sustained by an unmistakable will for independence. With that will, combined with acrobatic talents, the Prince of Cambodia has succeeded in preserving the peace of his realm. De Gaulle sees in this completely nationalist leader-in spite of a capricious personality far removed from the Elysian majesty-one of his chosen disciples. It was to pay him respect that he stopped three days at Phnom Penh on his way to Oceania, where he went to witness a nuclear test. He has less reason to be satisfied about what is happening in Laos, where he vigorously upheld the tripartite formula proposed by Prince Souvanna Phouma which led to the 1962 Geneva negotiations. When King Savang Vatthana came to Paris last year on an official visit, the General and he had to acknowledge that the pacification of Laos depended very much on ending hostilities in Viet Nam. This clearly makes the 1962 agreement of little value.
The remaining aspect of the policy of asserting a presence in Asia is the development of relations with Japan, India and Pakistan. Clearly the aim is to counterbalance Chinese influence, for without this any neutralization of Southeast Asia would be but a sham.
The General's idea that the salvation of the former Indochinese countries lies in their assertion of independence vis-à-vis the superpowers recurs in his attitude toward the states of the Third World. It is obvious that he appreciates their interests and supports their efforts in direct proportion to their own will to be independent, excluding all ideological considerations, especially when a man appears, be he king or president, who incarnates the idea. So, too, he can be simultaneously the friend of Israel, 95 percent of whose military aircraft continue to be "made in France," the friend of Egypt and of Nasser's mortal enemy, the Shah of Iran. In visiting the Emperor of Ethiopia this summer, he was honoring a national leader who, though not caring much about democracy, maintained his power against an aggressor as well as against liberators and feudal lords; but the General still sells arms to southern Africa, the aversion of all the nationalists of the continent.
Finally, de Gaulle's trips to Mexico and South America, though their results may have been modest, signified his belief-as was the case when he spoke against the United States intervention in Santo Domingo-that Latin America cannot completely escape the general process of decolonization any more than other continents can. But this does not prevent him from granting that every great power has particular interests to defend, although he never uses the phrase "zone of influence." This is the explanation of his efforts in 1958 to divide the command of possible theaters of operations all around the globe among the Western Big Three, as well as his unreserved support of Kennedy from the first moment of the Cuban missile crisis.
De Gaulle himself evidently intends to preserve a privileged zone of action for France in the lands of her former empire. This is the meaning of her considerable effort to aid Algeria, whose government, to put it mildly, does not always reciprocate; of the military agreements with the Malagasy Republic and other states of French-speaking Africa, notably Senegal and the Ivory Coast; and the very active participation of Paris in the development of most of these countries, with the notorious exception of Guinea, which has not been fully pardoned for having refused to follow from the beginning the Gaullist path.
Beyond what he considers France's civilizing mission in Africa, however, de Gaulle has set himself a higher task. His great ambition is to add to his other laurels those of the man who reunified Europe, so that it could play "in conjunction with America, its daughter," as he put it in the press conference of February 4, 1965, "in harmony and coöperation with a view to the development of its vast resources, the role which falls to it in the progress of two billion men who desperately need it."
"There is above all no question of separating part of Europe from any other part of Europe," he asserted as early as October 25, 1944, in newly liberated Paris. "That would be nonsense as well as poor policy, for Europe is one." If there is a point on which de Gaulle has hardly budged in the course of 25 years of public life, this certainly is it. Nothing justifies, in his view, the continued division of the Continent, which he sees as the center of civilization and the only possible catalyst for bringing about the new world equilibrium. He was not present at Yalta, but he has persisted in the face of established historical truth in promoting the myth that Roosevelt and Stalin in cold calculation divided up Europe there; and he has proclaimed his intention of remaking a settlement which was formulated at a time of European weakness now long past. In his opinion, the division of the world into two blocs will not last forever. Sooner or later Russians and Americans will go home again, leaving Europe, reunited at last, to resume its natural place at the very center of geography and history. Also, the Sino-Soviet break, like the latent conflict between France and the United States, seems to him another proof that the world of Yalta is little by little disappearing. There is not a doubt that Europe, "cut in two by the enmity and the greed of the Soviets, will remake itself one day for the good of men."
As he said at Westminster in 1960, several conditions must obviously be fulfilled, "in order for the evolution imposed on the one hand by human nature, which aspires to freedom, and on the other by development, which demands efficiency, progressively to reduce the opposition of the régimes" which divide Europe, This depends above all on the U.S.S.R., which must cease to "threaten," as he believes it has in fact done and as he stated during his trip to Moscow. The Soviet Union must evolve (he said February 4, 1965) "in such a way that it sees its future, not in totalitarian force imposed on its own land and on others, but in progress accomplished in common by free men and peoples"-an evolution which appears to him well under way. Finally, "the nations which Russia has made satellites must be able to play their role in a renewed Europe." The course taken by Rumania, whose head of government was received with much respect in Paris, seems to demonstrate that the régimes of Eastern Europe now have the capacity and will to exercise some measure of independence.
Therefore the time has come to initiate a détente with Eastern Europe-as de Gaulle prematurely thought it had come at the end of 1959. Then, announcing Khrushchev's acceptance of his invitation to visit France, he credited him with having discerned "that at the highest level of responsibility, service to man, to his condition, to his peace, are the realism which is most realistic, the politics which are most politic."
This is the whole meaning of Couve de Murville's travels in Eastern Europe and de Gaulle's own visit to Russia, as well as the steady development of bilateral technical, commercial, cultural and even political relations with the countries of the area. The hope is that by extending the "détente" it may one day become an "entente"-the formula which tends more and more to become the slogan of French diplomacy. In the Elysée it is increasingly clear that the entente must embrace all Europeans, including the Russians. Like all French schoolboys, de Gaulle learned that Europe extends "from the Atlantic to the Urals." But since he went to Novosibirsk he has been forced to persuade himself that the Urals, which are practically invisible from an airplane, are no more significant as an ethnic or political barrier than they are as a geographical one. Thus in his toast at the farewell reception in the Kremlin, he spoke of Europe "from one end to the other." This is more vague and cuts short many speculations caused earlier by his too- scholastic vocabulary.
If Russia-which since his trip there the President of the Republic finally consents after 44 years to call the Soviet Union-is by definition European, the United States has no pretensions to this title. And no doubt de Gaulle considers it a coup that the Soviet leaders, who in the Khrushchev era tended to look upon Washington as their only valid interlocutor, and sought there the ultimate solution to the problem of European security, agreed to discuss this matter with him. They even signed a joint declaration, essentially the work of Couve de Murville, which accented the European character of the desired settlement. One may wonder, however, whether they were not playing with words, since de Gaulle concedes-he said so to Kosygin and Brezhnev-that the Americans would have to join in guaranteeing that settlement. This presupposes that they would likewise be allowed to discuss its nature. By the same token, he does not dispute the American rights deriving from the war in matters concerning the German problem. In fact, he expressed the core of his thought when he said at the first working session in the Kremlin, "I am not displeased to have the U.S.S.R. as a counterweight to American hegemony," adding immediately, "and I am no more displeased to have the United States as a counterweight to Soviet hegemony."
We may conclude that the Soviet Union has its place reserved in the Europe of de Gaulle's dreams, but on condition that it give up the idea of dominating it-and he counts on the United States always to dissuade it from doing so. At bottom, his basic difference with the other NATO members is that he considers that its very power creates a temptation for the United States to dominate. Consequently, it is unnecessary for Western Europe to pay anything for American protection against the Soviets since it clearly is in the American interest to provide it; and further, no risk is involved in pressing the West Europeans to shake off some of this guardianship. The Germans, British, Italians or Beneluxians are always cautious about criticizing the Americans for fear of pushing them into abandoning Europe. The General does not believe for a minute in that possibility, though he uses the argument to justify the French force de frappe.
In any event, de Gaulle considers it inconceivable that the Continent can be reunified and the key German problem solved until Western Europe has established its independence of the United States. There is no chance of Moscow relinquishing its military presence in the heart of the Continent unless the American presence disappears as well. At the same time, the equilibrium between the two parts of Europe would be dangerously upset unless there were a political and even military unity in the West worthy of the name.
Operating from this point of view, de Gaulle as far back as London and Algiers days appealed to the nations of Western Europe to regroup. Before quitting power in 1946 he went to Mainz to speak of reconciliation with the Germans, and as early as 1958 assured Adenauer that France would adhere to the Common Market, although many of his followers-Michel Debré for one-had vigorously denounced it while in opposition during the Fourth Republic. In 1960 also, he proposed a modified form of European political union-the Fouchet Plan. He indicated to Macmillan twice, when he visited Rambouillet in 1962, that he was fully prepared to build a strategic rocket jointly with Britain. He vetoed the British entry into the Common Market because he had thought the Nassau Agreements proved that Britain continued to value its American ties above joining Europe, which meant that it could only play there the role of an American Trojan horse-but subsequently expressed the conviction that some time the United Kingdom would decide to cross the Channel. Until then there was no hope of a truly independent Europe. He signed a treaty of friendship with Germany, which in his mind as in Adenauer's was intended to force the hand of their partners among the Six, who were guilty of rejecting the Fouchet Plan. He refused to sign the Moscow Test Ban Treaty, which in his judgment would merely consolidate the privileged position of the Big Three. Finally, he increased his objections to the M.L.F. and similar proposals which would have integrated West Germany once and for all into the American defense system, thus shattering all hopes for European military autonomy.
The General's preaching has awakened echoes in various European political and intellectual circles. This has been notable in the right wing of the Christian Democratic Union. Yet since Adenauer's retirement Gaullism has been ineffectual at the governmental level. The General's decision to withdraw his troops from the Atlantic command, and to give notice to the American troops stationed in France to leave, increased the mistrust of his European partners, particularly since he did not consult with them any more than with the Americans. These measures isolate him still further on his Empyrean height, and reveal his contempt for those who in a prosaic era are called to succeed the great wartime chieftians-of whom he alone remains in power to perpetuate the breed.
Since he is absolutely convinced that history in the end will once again prove him right, de Gaulle is not a man to give in to pressure, especially from the "Anglo-Saxons." He awaits the day when the others will come to him, recognizing that all he wants is peace through the progressive reconciliation of Eastern and Western Europe and the end of the cold war on the basis of mutual concessions. For this purpose he pushes Bonn to reassure Russia, Poland and Czechoslovakia of its peaceful intentions and to give up all claims-territorial or nuclear-thus surrendering in some measure its equality of rights; but at the same time he repeats to the U.S.S.R. that it must not expect French recognition of East Germany, which is nothing but an "artificial creation," a symbol of the division of the Continent into rival ideologies. In his judgment the only equitable basis for the solution of the German problem, as for all others, is self- determination.
Now there is no denying the daring of this philosophy and the breadth of this vision. Nor can one deny that it makes a certain good sense if one grants that the balance of terror prevents either camp from attempting to impose a solution on the other. In taking over ideas which have been expressed often before by nonconformist intellectuals (among others the staff of Le Monde), de Gaulle gives them the backing of his personal prestige and that of a nation which after years of eclipse has regained a great deal of its international standing. He forces each one to ask himself whether the formulas repeated ad nauseam, for years have the least chance of attaining concrete results. Already we have seen the NATO Council at its session in Brussels discuss the idea of a reunified Europe.
Is this to say that de Gaulle has much chance of becoming the deux ex machina to put an end to the division of Europe? For the moment, the echoes of his ideas among the leaders of Eastern Europe are very feeble. Chiefly they see in France's position an effective counterforce to the strengthening of Germany within NATO, at a moment, too, when the war in Viet Nam is diverting the major thrust of American policy to Asia and when the permanent pound-sterling crisis reduces Britain to the role of a hardly- brilliant second to the United States. In order for them to accept the constructive aspect of de Gaulle's theses on Europe, they must be convinced that he is not a freewheeler but a spokesman of a unanimous Europe. But that de Gaulle is not. Western Europeans, including many Frenchmen, are sufficiently content with their lot to respond only moderately to the appeal for an independence which would necessarily involve them in financial sacrifice. Moreover, the language and cavalier manner of the French Head of State have rightly or wrongly created the feeling among his partners that he intends in the final analysis to substitute his own protection for that of the United States. A few gestures on his part would no doubt be enough to end these misgivings. By campaigning, for example, for a European political organ based on universal suffrage, he could obtain wide popular if not governmental support all around Europe. Unhappily, nothing indicates that he dreams of doing so, and in fact such a move would go against the grain of his nature.
It nevertheless must be stated that, in spite of all the apprehension expressed in one quarter or another, he has not only allowed the economic construction of Western Europe to proceed but speeded up the process, though this involved many concessions on his part, expurgating "supranationalism" in principle only to allow it to develop in practice. True, it has not been proved that this Community can be the nucleus of a larger and more integrated Europe. On the other hand, nothing proves the contrary. It is hard to ask a personage like de Gaulle, for a quarter of a century the very embodiment of French legitimacy, to bow to a higher authority. But it ought to be enough for him to look over the list of his possible heirs in order to be convinced that the only successor who would be of his stature, the only one who could continue to speak as equal to the giants of the modern world, is a united Europe.
[i] "De Gaulle." New York: Simon and Schuster, 1966,