Manual Two Strategies for Europe: De Gaulle, the United States, and the Atlantic Alliance

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What interdependence manifestly did not mean to Macmillan was abuse by the US of its position as the more powerful partner to force through its own policy preferences, whilst paying mere lip-service to the principle of consultation. The limits and frustrations of interdependence US-style were most clearly demonstrated by the collapse of the Paris summit of May following the Gary Powers U2 spy plane incident. It was this moment of epiphany, Ashton suggests, more than any other consideration, that persuaded Macmillan to seek British membership of the European Economic Community EEC.

Looking back, Ashton thinks this outcome was inevitable due to the persistent failure of London and Washington to reconcile their conflicting views of what the term interdependence meant.

While conceding that December was, chronologically, the pivot on which the crisis revolved, Ashton argues persuasively that events both before and after that point need to be examined in order fully to understand the nature and extent of the fissures that opened up in Anglo-American relations. The Laos and Berlin crises of show the extent to which Macmillan was willing to compromise British policy preferences in order to establish good relations with the new president.

On Laos in particular, Ashton thinks Macmillan went too far in all but agreeing to commit British forces alongside US troops in a military intervention to counter the communist Pathet Lao. If Laos and Berlin offer important contexts in relation to the wider crisis of interdependence in by highlighting how an Anglo-American community of interests does not guarantee a commonality of policies , the Cuban missile crisis of October showed that interdependence in the sense that the British understood it — a partnership in and yet transcending defence and security — was more apparent than real.

In the Middle East too, there were indications that all was not well, or at any rate equal, in Anglo-American interdependence. The Kennedy administration believed that these worries were overblown, which was to be expected given that its approach to the Middle East involved cultivating Arab opinion in general and Egyptian opinion in particular, both as ends in themselves and as a means of ameliorating the Arab-Israeli problem.

There was thus considerable continuity, Ashton observes, both in the policies of the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations and in the strain that pursuing Nasser placed on Anglo-American relations. Nor for that matter was competition in arms sales. In the summer of , British plans to sell the Bloodhound air defence system to Israel were scuppered when the Israelis instead purchased the American Hawk missile.

The Kennedy administration had hitherto eschewed arms sales to any Middle East country lest it trigger a regional arms race, and Macmillan had assumed that the Bloodhound deal would proceed without a hitch. When it collapsed, the prime minister instantly assumed foul play. Privately, though, the British prime minister retained the suspicion that the Americans had 'deceived us all through' and cautioned that Britain should 'always have this in mind in discussing other subjects with them'.

In building his case for a series of interlocking crises in Ashton also looks at the problem of the Congo, where the US preference for UN police action to bring an end to the Katangan secession came into conflict with British support, albeit subtle, for the independence of the break-away province. In , as already seen, Macmillan saw membership of the EEC as insurance against the unreliability of the Anglo-American alliance. By late , as the crisis of interdependence — and the related crisis of British confidence in the US as a partner — came to a head, an additional British power base was arguably more important than ever.

The test itself finally arrived in December when the Kennedy administration cancelled further research and development into the Skybolt missile and in so doing delivered a devastating blow to Macmillan and his government. McNamara, the US secretary of defence, but to little avail.

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For some US policymakers, it may also have been a stratagem for the elimination of the independent British deterrent and its relocation in a NATO seaborne MRBM force of Polaris submarines with mixed manning and multilateral ownership but crucially under ultimate American control — the so-called Multilateral Force or MLF.

On 20 December , Macmillan got a large measure of what he wanted — but only by threatening to walk out of the talks, and so expose the break-down in relations to the world, unless the Americans dropped their insistence that the Polaris deal was conditional on British adherence to the MLF. Through a process of diplomatic alchemy, the compromise reached at Nassau offered something to both British and American amour propre , with the UK Polaris force committed in principle to NATO, but with an opt-out provision allowing for independent deployment if supreme national interests were threatened.

The question remains, however, as to which version of interdependence, the British or American, the Nassau deal vindicated. True, at Nassau the British independent deterrent was seemingly preserved.

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On closer inspection, however, the linkage becomes apparent. At the start of his study, Ashton notes the contrast that other scholars have drawn between Anglo-American global cooperation and local conflict. But what of the Anglo-American relationship in general? Talk of a US Grand Design for Europe, she suggests, whether at the time or in subsequent historical studies, is rather wide of the mark — at best the term provides a convenient catch-all for a series of inconsistent and erratically pursued policies.

Mahan shows how at various times de Gaulle cynically manipulated Adenauer in furtherance of his own over-arching foreign policy goals — French leadership of Europe and, from this power base, the assertion of French independence in foreign affairs and the destruction of the dual hegemony of the United States and the Soviet Union.


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But Adenauer had his own European agenda to assert West German sovereignty by seeking access to, if not control over, nuclear weapons, a goal that could be advanced through cooperation with France. Moreover, a united Franco-German front could be used to block what Adenauer regarded as worrying American initiatives. De Gaulle was happy to fan these concerns, arguing that West Germany would be over-run by the Red Army in the opening phase of war as policymakers in Washington held back from using nuclear weapons.

This last consideration, together with his unhappiness at US unilateralism during both the Berlin and Cuban crises in , encouraged de Gaulle to plan for the day when French forces in Europe were freed from the control of NATO. Since January , General de Gaulle's foreign policy has been subject to many contradictory or erroneous interpretations in the United States. It is necessary, therefore, to indicate its foundations, its main lines, some of the expectations and techniques peculiar to the General, and some of the obstacles it encounters.

I will concentrate here on his views and policies toward France's Atlantic and European partners.

Two Strategies for Europe : De Gaulle, the United States, and the Atlantic Alliance

Also, Furniss , Edgar S. De Gaulle's , critique of supranationality is best found in his press conference of May 15, Ambassade de France, Speeches and Press Conferences , No. On de Gaulle's concepts of international relations, see the article mentioned in footnote 1, p. Maybe the decision would have been the same. But the timing and the manner were certainly determined by Nassau. Without Nassau he might have let the talks drag on and expire over the highly controversial economic issues. News and World Report , 04 22, , pp.

However, in practice , the differences between such institutions and intergovernmental ones tend to decrease as the functions dealt with by the European bodies become more general and affect more the area of high politics. See my remarks in: Hoffmann , S.


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Their tone is less overtly challenging or suspicious of the United States; their policies hardly less so. To the extent to which they would like to reach, faster than de Gaulle, a much more tightly united Europe whose policies would not be very different from his, should not American enthusiasts for European integration shift their attention from procedures or institutions to substance and policies? The author would like to thank Nancy L.

Roelker for her assistance in the translation of an earlier and shorter version of this essay, published by the French monthly Esprit in June Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection. This data will be updated every 24 hours. Login Alert. Log in.

When France Pulled the Plug on a Crucial Part of NATO - HISTORY

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