Andrew Moravcsik, "De Gaulle Between Grain and Grandeur : The Political
Economy of French EC Policy, 1958-1970", with commentaries by Stanley
Hoffmann, John T.S. Keeler, Alan Milward, John Gillingham, Jeffrey Vanke,
Marc Trachtenberg, and a response by Andrew Moravcsik, Journal of Cold
War Studies, Volume 2, Numbers 2-3 (Spring-Fall 2000).

Comment by Irwin Wall, University of California Riverside, Visiting Scholar at New York University, imw3@nyu.edu

Upon reading the exchange between Andrew Moravscik and his imposing array
of critics I have the sense that he conceded a great deal of ground which
I do not need to go over again. I do think he has made a contribution to
our understanding of de Gaulle's European policy. My first reaction,
before I had read deeply, was that I had found a kindred spirit in
Moravscik, someone else willing to take de Gaulle down a peg or two, to
show that he was not necessarily or always a visionary giant concerned
with the broader picture, "the vision thing" as a former President named
Bush once so inelegantly put it. The general was rather in many respects
an ordinary statesman, subject to the same mundane needs of trying to
balance the complexities of international relations and economics against
the competing demands of domestic interest groups, some of which had a
virtual stranglehold on policy decisions.

My own approach to de Gaulle is similar: I have tried to show in my newest
book (_France, The United States, and the Algerian War, 1954-1962_,
University of California Press, 2001) that de Gaulle never intended to let
go of Algeria when he came to power, that in fact his entire diplomacy was
oriented from 1958 to November 1960 toward a vain hope of holding on to
France's most valuable overseas possession, that he in fact won the war
there on the ground, but was forced ultimately to negotiate a peace by
external pressure, first from the United States, then by the United
Nations and World Opinion, and finally by a war-weary public in France
itself. I believe that Moravscik is certainly right that the elements of
continuity between de Gaulle's foreign policy and that of the Fourth
Republic are much more striking than the evidence in favor of a total
break. I argue this for Algeria, but it is easier to prove in the area of
the Common Market and the French insistence on a Common Agricultural
Policy, which was an unconditional demand of the French as the price for
their entry into the EEC from the signing of the Treaty of Rome onward.
The Fourth Republic, Moravscik correctly points out, was as tough or
tougher than de Gaulle on this question throughout its negotiations with
its partners among the five and with the British, whose initial efforts to
submerge the Common Market in a broader Free Trade Area of the OEEC
countries it firmly resisted. It had yielded nothing when de Gaulle
inherited the negotiations, named for the British negotiator Maudling, and
ended them in November 1958.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the CAP became a French condition
for British entry to the Common Market, or that de Gaulle provoked a
crisis over it leading to the "Empty Chair" episode in 1965. I am
convinced by much of what Moravscik says in these two specific instances.
But my agreement stops there. Let me begin with sources. These are not
lacking as Moravscik appears to claim. The French Diplomatic Documents
are available, published, from 1954 through 1962 and the volumes come off
the presses continuously. The holdings of the Quai d'Orsay are available
through most of the 1960s. There is a plethora of memoirs by people close
to de Gaulle: Triboulet, Debre, Foccart, Chaban-Delmas, in addition to
Moravscik's favorite, Peyrefitte, whom he overuses shamelessly. Of these
Peyrefitte is by far the most imaginative -- he was, after all, a writer
-- but he is far from entirely reliable. Admittedly his quotes from de
Gaulle are juicy; if de Gaulle did not say some of the things Peyrefitte
attributes to him he should have, but that they ring true does not make
them so.

Peyrefitte has a fatal weakness that Moravscik overlooks, Peyrefitte
believes, or asserts, that important diplomatic initiatives that failed
were not meant seriously to succeed. This is very self-serving, if not of
Peyrefitte himself, then of the general, none of whose initiatives ever
failed if it is true. Unfortunately this will not hold up when examined
in the documentary record. For example, Peyrefitte quotes de Gaulle as
saying he never meant anything by the September 18, 1958 memorandum to the
UK and the U.S. proposing a directorate of France and the two Anglo-Saxon
powers over NATO and the Western World except to provoke a refusal and
then pursue his policy of independence. I have studied this in extensive
detail, and I believe de Gaulle's assertion to be self serving nonsense:
countries do not engage in years of protracted negotiations, not only with
each other, but internally within their own bureaucracies and
constituencies, unless they expect at least partial success. De Gaulle
wanted solidarity in Algeria and help with his nuclear weapons program
from the U.S. and the UK, in exchange for which he would be a loyal NATO
partner and solid ally. Both Eisenhower and Macmillan looked for ways to
satisfy his nuclear demands; Macmillan understood in fact that if could
satisfy de Gaulle on nuclear collaboration the way would be open for Great
Britain to enter the Common Market, an aspect of the negotiations
Moravscik ignores. Another example: Peyrefitte also says the plan to
partition Algeria in 1961 between its European and Muslim populations was
a trial balloon simply meant to scare the rebels into making more
negotiating concessions. But Debre and Jean Morin, de Gaulle's last
Resident Minister for Algeria, understood it to be meant in deadly
seriousness, and they communicated that to the rebels, who angrily
demonstrated against the idea. Similarly, since the Fouchet Plan failed,
Peyrefitte writes it off as a feint, and Moravscik follows him in
believing it. But the stenographic accounts of the meetings between the
six at Foreign Minister and Head of State levels in the DDF series should
be enough to dispel any such notion.

Moravscik misunderstands the Fouchet plan negotiations because he fails to
see the broader picture. The Fouchet plan was not meant in isolation, but
as part of a diplomatic ensemble that reveals de Gaulle as nothing if not
a geopolitician. There were three parts to this ensemble: first, the
September memorandum proposing a "Directorate" of the three nuclear powers
with world interests in the west; second, the French union established by
the constitution of the Fifth Republic in 1958, which established a
federal union of African states run from Paris, which was to control the
Presidency and Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Higher Education,
and Economics of the Union; and Third, a confederal union of European
states, the Six, with a secretariat in Paris, not Brussels. De Gaulle
here resurrected the popular idea of Eurafrique, a combination of Europe
and Africa with Paris at its center, the capital so to speak, representing
Europe and its African hinterland in the councils of the Big Three, the
UK, U.S., and France.

This broader picture of Gaullist diplomacy is not discussed either by
Moravscik or his critics in the symposium. Moravscik also seems not to
grasp the reason de Gaulle went the route of the Fouchet plan to establish
European Political Cooperation (EPC): de Gaulle wanted EPC to be
established independently of Brussels, precisely because the Brussels
mechanism was to be truly supranational, and he could countenance
supranational institutions only in the economic sphere, to which Brussels
in his view had to remain limited. De Gaulle resented the pretensions of
the authorities in Brussels to act as if they constituted a sovereign
state. The only states for him were the ancient established ones of
Europe. And finally there was a self- interested calculation in all this:
de Gaulle wanted EPC as a confederal arrangement because France, on a one
on one basis with Germany, or Italy, or Belgium, could generally have its
way. It could bully each individually; it was not strong enough to
prevail over them if they acted together. And it was through lining up
their support, one by one, that de Gaulle almost achieved success. The
problem was the small countries, which did not want to take dictation from
the bigger ones, a problem on the agenda of the EU today. The Dutch
particularly would not accept the Fouchet Plan unless it was made
consistent with NATO and included the English, and this made it in turn
unacceptable to de Gaulle. Moreover, it was the Dutch who pointed out to
the French during the negotiations that what de Gaulle defined as a
"European" policy was always the policy of France, pure and simple: the
emperor, indeed, had no clothes.

Moravscik appears to concede the point to his critics that de Gaulle did
not separate economics and geopolitics, he was a relentless modernizer as
Stanley Hoffmann says. So were most of the politicians of the Fourth
Republic before him, and economic modernization was and had to be the
basis of French geopolitical hegemonic claims; I will not belabor this
point here. But what I mean to say is that de Gaulle did not apply
geopolitics to the Common Market because as an economic mechanism he
wanted it rigidly separated from the political sphere. In trying to
accomplish this absolute dichotomy between the EEC and EPC he probably had
to fail; but his approach explains why he bargained so hard over the
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) within the Common Market mechanism, and
hoped to keep the British out, as Moravscik I think correctly says, until
the CAP was irrevocably established.

This is not to say, however, that de Gaulle would not have traded British
membership earlier for a meaningful collaboration on the French nuclear
program, which probably cost the French much more than agricultural
subsidies, and on which extensive savings could have been realized had
France not had to rediscover the wheel so to speak, make over again all or
most of the costly mistakes the Americans had made on the way to the
construction of their own nuclear program. That is, as the proverbial
saying goes, another story. But it is one in the absence of which we
cannot achieve a fuller understanding of what was going on. Moreover, the
rejection of Great Britain's application to join the Common Market was
multi-causal; some of the reasons one could not expect de Gaulle to have
articulated for diplomatic reasons, but they were there nevertheless. De
Gaulle never forgot Churchill's wartime comment: he must never make
Churchill choose between France and America, for Churchill would always
chose America. Eden aligned himself with France during the Suez
operation, but no sooner had it begun than he lost heart and ceded under
American pressure, leading to abject failure. After that Macmillan set
the British on a resolute policy of cultivating again the so-called
special relationship with the Americans from which the French were always
to feel excluded. Great Britain then slavishly followed the Americans in
pressuring France on Algeria, joining Washington in sending arms to
Tunisia, offering with Washington good offices to settle the crisis over
the French bombardment of the Tunisian village, Sakiet, in February 1958,
and sending a virtual ultimatum to the Gaillard government which caused it
to fall and led to de Gaulle's coming to power. Great Britain remained
aligned to the United States thereafter, joining with the Americans in
continued pressure on de Gaulle over Algeria which finally forced him to
accept Algerian independence. Meanwhile the British accepted American
nuclear help which was denied in turn to France. De Gaulle was acutely
aware of all this and deeply resentful of it when he was confronted with
Britain's EEC application.

Trachtenberg makes the point that historians understand some things, in a
way contemporaries had to understand them, almost instinctively, even in
the absence of documentary evidence. That may be a stretch, but it is
probably true. But there is another thing that we should instinctively
understand and often don't even in the face of documentary evidence that
cries out for such understanding. I refer to what is commonly called
linkage. Politicians are like jugglers, they deal with many issues at the
same time, several in the same day, perhaps all in the same week, and many
in the same set or subset of negotiations. They often look for
concessions in one area in exchange for gaining political ground in
another. By dealing with EC and CAP in isolation Moravscik misses this
crucial point. There was never a dichotomy between geopolitical and
economic calculations in de Gaulle's diplomacy; they were always linked,
and cannot be separated in the way that Moravscik tries to do.

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