The two great merits of this short and well-researched volume, by a former high intelligence officer turned scholar, are a clear presentation of the many tracks and detours of French security policy between 1945 and 1951 and a convincing demonstration of the continuity of French concerns and purposes until this day. Post-1945 France had many handicaps: the legacy of the defeat of 1940, a determination to keep Germany weak, a desire for a balancing role between East and West, and a difficult relationship with Britain, which wanted to act as the indispensable intermediary between Washington and the European continent. It also faced a constant inability to keep the United States to the role of a major participant in European security, so as to keep the Soviets out and the Germans down, but not a dominant partner. After reading this book, American statesmen and journalists who say that French demands for a reshaping of NATO are diversions or absurdly pretentious will have no excuse for continuing to ignore the seriousness, depth, and longevity of French policy.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.