By Philip H. Gordon
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Additional resources for A Certain Idea of France: French Security Policy and Gaullist Legacy
De Gaulle’s rhetoric, moreover, often seemed to suggest that he viewed independence as a value in and of itself. 43 Should not an aim in international affairs be to do things with others where possible? In the critical area of national security, the continual refusal of integrated defense (which seemed vital) and the equally persistent insistence on an independent nuclear deterrent (which seemed useless and dangerous) seemed to ﬂaunt the country’s willingness to go it alone and to presume its ability to do so.
De Gaulle’s preoccupation with his own and his country’s stature gave the impression that he shirked international responsibilities and failed to see success in anything broader than a national perspective. Thus, there was ample reason to suspect the motives behind the twin themes of independence and grandeur, and the roots of the great exasperation and diplomatic damage caused by this Gaullist creed are easy to trace. But despite the evidence for this reading of de Gaulle, can the General’s conception of independence and grandeur be explained in any other way?
Thus, arguments like de Gaulle’s that nationstates were the only “legitimate” units of action were not only unsubstantiated but ultimately very dangerous. Moreover, the federalists did not believe (in direct opposition to de Gaulle) that a state-based organization was necessary to the effective functioning of government. What it took to run an economy, and even to make foreign policy, was competence, not the “loyalty” of the masses to one ﬂag or another. In a European version of the American “best and brightest,” the technocrats of the Communities believed that they could manage the Continent’s affairs more effectively than the numerous minibureaucracies and governments of the individual states.
A Certain Idea of France: French Security Policy and Gaullist Legacy by Philip H. Gordon