Charles de Gaulle´s Foreign Policy Essay

Charles de Gaulle´s Foreign Policy Essay

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De Gaulle's foreign policy was possibly one of his most controversial legacies. He returned to power in 1958 with the determination to elevate France to a prominent international role. De Gaulle’s ultimate goal was to re-establish France’s standing as a first rate power that in the words of one historian, exemplified “independence and grandeur.” In his war memoirs, de Gaulle presented ‘une certain idée de la France’, it was his belief that France had a great destiny to fulfil: ‘All my life, I have thought of France in a certain way … France is not really herself unless in the front rank … Only vast enterprises are capable of counterbalancing the ferments of dispersal which are inherent in her people … In short, to my mind, France cannot be France without greatness’. This vision was the foundation of his foreign and defence policies.

His concept of a “European Europe” was tied to the notion of a Europe “from the Atlantic to the Urals.” The basic idea here was that the two hegemonic powers, America and USSR, would gradually loosen their grip over their respective scopes of influence in Europe; and Europe would gain independence. The Cold War initiated this vision and as a result he created enemies in Washington.

Collapse of colonial empire/force de frappe/multi-polar
In relation to de Gaulle’s desire to raise France to the status of a great nation, he believed that France should possess its own nuclear weapon, ‘force de frappe’. De Gaulle was in favour of a shift towards a multi-polar world of nation states in which middle-sized powers would play a greater role. In terms of policies and objectives, De Gaulle did not develop a compelling case. He did not articulate detailed plans of how international stability would ha...

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...orld order in which France would act as a great power. European states did not share his optimistic view of Soviet intentions. They believed a strong alliance with the United States was necessary to deter Soviet political ambitions and military capabilities. This view was reinforced in 1968 with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

France lacked the economic and financial foundation to compete against the United States and Soviet Union as the leader of a bloc of nations. Third World countries especially looked to the two superpowers for economic and developmental assistance, and they linked their political allegiance to the receipt of such aid. France, as a middle-class power with an average amount of resources, simply did not possess the means necessary to fulfil this role. This can be seen as a hindrance to the success of de Gaulle’s foreign policy.

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