De Gaulle and the French Connection
De Gaulle did limited good for the American empire, but immense good for the cause of republican government. Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French army officer and statesman who led the Despite frosty relations with the United Kingdom and especially the United States, he emerged . His class ranking was mediocre (th out of entrants), but he was relatively young and this was his first attempt at the exam. Ultimately, after French President Charles de Gaulle's retirement, the in Franco -American relations, World War I simultaneously tested and reinforced the . Eisenhower and Dulles placed pressure on Britain and France to.
He distinguished himself in operations near the River Zbruczwith the rank of major in the Polish army, and won Poland's highest military decoration, the Virtuti Militari. He was already a powerful speaker, after practice as a prisoner of war.
Here he clashed with his instructor Colonel Moyrand by arguing for tactics based on circumstances rather than doctrine, and after an exercise in which he had played the role of commander, he refused to answer a question about supplies, replying "de minimis non curat praetor" "a leader does not concern himself with trivia" before ordering the responsible officer to answer Moyrand.
He obtained respectable, but not outstanding grades — 15 or so out of 20 — on many of his assessments. Moyrand wrote in his final report that he was "an intelligent, cultured and serious-minded officer; has brilliance and talent" but criticised him for not deriving as much benefit from the course as he should have done, and for his arrogance: Having entered 33rd out ofhe graduated in 52nd place, with a grade of assez bien "good enough". He was posted to Mainz to help supervise supplies of food and equipment for the French Army of Occupation.
In March he published an essay on the use of tactics according to circumstances, a deliberate gesture in defiance of Moyrand. In de Gaulle began to cultivate Joseph Paul-Boncourhis first political patron. This was a popular topic because of the Maginot Line which was then being planned, but his argument was quite nuanced: These later formed the basis for his book The Edge of the Sword Many of the officers in the audience were his seniors, who had taught and examined him only a few years earlier.
Trier and Beirut[ edit ] After spending twelve years as a captain, a normal period, de Gaulle was promoted to commandant major on 25 September An observer wrote of de Gaulle at this time that although he encouraged young officers, "his ego In the winter of —, thirty soldiers "not counting Annamese " died from so-called "German flu", seven of them from de Gaulle's battalion. His service at SGDN gave him six years' experience of the interface between army planning and government, enabling him to take on ministerial responsibilities in He made a presentation about his bill to the CHEM.
The bill passed the Chamber of Deputies but failed in the Senate. Mayer thought that although wars were still bound to happen, it was "obsolete" for civilised countries to threaten or wage war on one another as they had in previous centuries. He had a low opinion of the quality of French generals, and was a critic of the Maginot Line and a proponent of mechanised warfare.
The book imagined tanks driving around the country like cavalry. De Gaulle's mentor Emile Mayer was somewhat more prophetic than he was about the future importance of air power on the battlefield. Such an army would both compensate for France's population shortage, and be an efficient tool to enforce international law, particularly the Treaty of Versailleswhich forbade Germany from rearming.
He also thought it would be a precursor to a deeper national reorganisation, and wrote that "a master has to make his appearance [ The book attracted praise across the political spectrum, apart from the hard left who were committed to the Republican ideal of a citizen army. Reynaud first invited him to meet him on 5 December There is no evidence that he was tempted by fascism, and there is little evidence of his views either on domestic upheavals in and or the many foreign policy crises of the decade.
When De Gaulle was informed on November 8 he was furious, and said to his military secretary: They can't break into France like burglars. Petain issued a statement condemning the invasion as an aggressive act and called upon his forces in Africa to resist to the utmost.
Petain's orders to resist were obeyed. Naval engagements off Casablanca between American and Vichy warships ensued.
Roosevelt then appealed to Petain not to oppose the invasion aimed at the liberation of France. When Foreign Minister Pierre Laval saw the Petain was not firmly committed to resistance, he met with Hitler in Germany, and upon his return on November 11 warned that if the Vichy government did not remain true to the policy of collaboration with the Axis, he would resign as Foreign Minister and the Germans would treat France as they had Poland.
This may have prompted Petain's public denunciation of Darlan. In any event, the Vichy forces heeded Darlan's orders and abandoned their resistance to the Allies on November By this time, German and Italian troops and planes were arriving in Tunisia. The Vichy forces prepared to join the impending battle with the Germans. If anything, this series of events within the fractured French government shows how little power De Gaulle actually had as a French political power.
Now it was up to De Gaulle to establish himself on French soil in Algiers. In June of the decision was reached to set up a Military Committee composed of De Gaulle, General Giraud, who had earlier been approved by Eisenhower as military Commander-in-Chief in North Africa, and a few senior generals.
General Eisenhower, with the encouragement of British representative Macmillan, chose to regard this as a satisfactory arrangement. According to an account by Macmillan, General Eisenhower had become disillusioned with Giraud and unenthusiastic about Roosevelt's policy of working exclusively through Giraud for the rearmament of French forces in North Africa.
If Eisenhower was satisfied with De Gaulle, Roosevelt had no valid reason to demand action against De Gaulle, and Churchill took no action in the absence of pressure from Washington.
In general, Churchill did not like De Gaulle's personal ambition, and stressed that De Gaulle must "take his place in a team. In January of Roosevelt wanted to set up an Anglo-American military government in liberated France. Churchill did not agree with Roosevelt's plans for a military government, but it would have been against his principles to tell De Gaulle that he sided with him against the President on such an issue.
In June of De Gaulle landed on a Normandy beach at the same time as a contingent of Canadian soldiers. His exile from France had lasted three days less that four years, during which he travelled from Britain to Algeria and back again.
However, the public opinion in the West was that De Gaulle represented France, and the British and American leaders had to accept this fact. In July of De Gaulle, after firmly establishing himself in France, visited Washington, after which the State Department declared that De Gaulle was "qualified to exercise civil administration in liberated France. Roosevelt, unfortunately for De Gaulle, still considered him an "egoist.
This declaration left De Gaulle installed in Paris as the unchallenged head of the government of France. In May ofin the last few days of the German Reich after Hitler's death, Himmler sent a message to De Gaulle in which he tried to separate the French from both the Anglo-Americans and the Russians: They will treat you as a satellite and make you lose your national honour.
They will take France over and liquidate you The only road that can lead your people to greatness and independence is that of an entente with conquered Germany. Proclaim it at once. Get in touch without delay with the men in the Reich who still have power de facto and want to lead it in a new direction. Later, De Gaulle wrote that, in fact, Himmler's assessment of the hopes and risks ahead for France was not very different from his own, particularly in regards to the patronizing Anglo-Saxons, which is to say, the British and Americans.
In August offour days after the Potsdam conference ended, the world entered the atomic age when nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. De Gaulle had known about the American atom bomb project since July ofwhen three French scientists who had been involved told him about it in a secret meeting while he was in Montreal, on the final leg of his American visit.
Until then he had been content for France to shelter under the American nuclear shield. But now the Russians had the bomb and De Gaulle was developing new ideas which were to be central to the defence policy of the Fifth Republic. They were not hindered by the fact that his friend General Eisenhower had been elected President in November of InFrance decided to go her own way in the development of atomic weapons, as De Gaulle had urged in A foreign-aid agreement was signed that would allow Israel to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
A secret supplementary accord extended the collaboration between French and Germans to the atomic field. After De Gaulle regained power inafter ten years on the government sidelines, he attended to Germany.
De Gaulle wanted nothing to do with the German Federal Republic acquiring nuclear weapons. It was Dulles's mission to urge that France should accept a pledge of close consultation in place of the formal creation of a tripartite American - British - French directorate of the Atlantic Alliance such as De Gaulle was known to favour.
Charles de Gaulle
De Gaulle's foreign policy objective at this time was 'to detach France, not from the Atlantic Alliance but from its integration under American command.
De Gaulle made it clear to Dulles that he had no hope of persuading him on nuclear policy. De Gaulle told Dulles: Adenauer accepted these proposals with enthusiasm, while insisting that the Federal Republic of Germany had an absolute need of the American guarantee of her security and must therefore remain in NATO.
The two men agreed to remain in personal contact. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean was not. The fleet consisted of 12 ships. In April, De Gaulle went a step further and forbade the presence of American nuclear weapons, whether on planes or launching-ramps, in France. France, therefore, was no longer a target for the Russians, should the Russians launch a counter-strike at the American deterrent in Europe in a nuclear conflict.
In January ofFrance exploded her first atomic bomb at the Algerian testing grounds. De Gaulle gave his independent nuclear force the name "strike force," or force de frappe.
The British declined the offer because the French strike force was at that time perceived as a weak and uncertain fledgeling. The one political point on which Kennedy was adamant was that there would be no United States help on the delivery system for a French nuclear weapon. The French Striking Force Because of the conflict in Algeria, France has been obliged to maintain a very substantial military force.
There are now about half a million men in the field in Algeria.
U.S.-Franco Relations - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History
For two major reasons, de Gaulle believes it absolutely necessary that France also have a stock of thermonuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, if need be, against the major Soviet cities, and his belief is reinforced by the prospect that Communist China, Sweden and other nations, may develop a nuclear capability.
Second, de Gaulle fears that, at some future date, the US might be induced by Soviet atomic blackmail to withdraw from Europe and leave France to its fate. Because of this fear—a constant, if often denied, undercurrent in French military thinking—de Gaulle believes that France must have sufficient nuclear weapons to destroy a number of major Soviet cities.
In the event of a Soviet attack, however, the French would be able to start a general war by dropping a few hydrogen bombs in the USSR, because, it is reasoned, the latter would then attack the US and bring it into the conflict. France exploded its first atomic device on February 20,in its testing area at Reggane in the Saharan desert; a second, also successful, was exploded on April 1. Thus culminated several years of research and development, begun long before de Gaulle returned to power in When the nuclear program is completed after further expenditure in aboutFrance hopes to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons recently estimated by an opposition Senator at 10 hydrogen bombs and atomic bombs and suitable missiles to deliver them, 50 strategic Mirage IV [Page ] bombers, 3 missile-launching cruisers, and 3 submarines 1 of them atomic.
Initially, the delivery system for French nuclear bombs will be manned bombers the Mirage IVlater, medium-range ballistic missiles, and finally, missile-carrying atomic submarines.
At the moment French nuclear capability remains very small, but there appears no reason to doubt that the French can achieve their goal of a limited but effective capability if they continue to make the necessary heavy expenditures on their nuclear weapons program.
French atomic development has had important diplomatic repercussions in two distinct areas leaving aside NATO. This sometimes violent emotional reaction of the Africans makes continued French atomic testing a source of growing friction between France and the former French territories in Africa.
Second, French atomic development has a potentially major effect on disarmament negotiations. Since before the de Gaulle regime France has insisted that only if all existing atomic stockpiles were destroyed could it accept an agreement banning nuclear tests.
Thus France has taken the position of threatening to break up any nuclear testing agreement that is likely to be reached and of insisting that it will forego nuclear weapons only if all others do so. The Assertion of Independence The assertion of French independence, which has so characterized the foreign policy of General de Gaulle, has two major aspects: In neither case does France seek to push its policy to extremes; it continues to recognize the need for a close NATO alliance, and the extra weight to which the United States is entitled by virtue of its capabilities.
Nevertheless, France has gone far enough to disturb the other members of the Western alliance.
The first major demonstration of this aim, announced in Marchwas the French decision that in time of war the French Mediterranean Fleet would be placed under [Page ] French, rather than NATO, command. Even more significant, however, is French policy toward involvement in a major war.
On the one hand, France does not want to be dragged into a nuclear war against its will.