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1.5 million West Berliners greet Kennedy, June 1963

To begin with, Washington has just pronounced its grief at the tragic loss of Hugh Gaitskell, whom Kennedy called a great man. Gaitskell was a great man and his death was a tragic loss. But Gaitskell was fervently and honestly against British entry into Europe; whereas De Gaulle is only bluffing until he gets American help for the French independent deterrent.


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Second, Reston's clumsy threat was directed at Adenauer after clear signs that Germany would oppose De Gaulle's veto on British entry. Why Adenauer should be so addressed is unclear, since it takes only France's vote to bar Britain from the Market now or ever. A German blackball would be not only unlikely but redundant. And third, when De Gaulle demands parity with Britain in the sharing of nuclear secrets, what he really is saying is that it is dangerous for sovereign states to rely on the good will of other sovereign states for their existence; and Kennedy has just provided excellent proof of this in the case of Skybolt.

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But France is being told that doubts regarding American willingness to jeopardize Detroit for the sake of, say, West Berlin are tantamount to treason. And such doubts might, as Reston clearly meant to suggest, result in a repetition of the American withdrawals from Europe after the two World Wars.

That would really prove De Gaulle's point. Unfortunately for Washington's self-esteem, however, the problem is not procedural but real. The challenge is not to America's Leadership but to the McNamara doctrine of division of military labor, according to which the U. And it was wishful to believe, even before Skybolt, that the Six would be willing to rely on someone else's generals in every situation.

Khrushchev is simply too adept at presenting limited threats over limited objectives; he has got us halfway out of West Berlin already. So long as he avoids more obvious encroachments, such as the Cuba stunt, he will always be able to make a given challenge "not worth" a major response. Anglo-American aid to India will be examined during the British visit, but the obvious major reason for going to London is to discuss the Anglo-American brief at the forthcoming test ban talks.

Jacqueline & John F. Kennedy in Paris

The Moscow talks will be difficult and complex. Mr Kennedy wants to settle on a strategy that would not close the door to further negotiations even if there is failure in Moscow. He also wants agreement with Britain on the extent to which the West might offer further concessions in an effort to obtain a treaty. But it believes that one more attempt is possible to convince the Soviet Union that on-site inspection would not in fact facilitate Western espionage. The President takes with him to Europe two projects designed to confirm US determination for linking its fate to Europe.

Alas, neither is an ace. The second is the Trade Expansion Act — the Kennedy round. Both are liable to cause as much dissension as they could help to cement unity.

The Failed Design: Kennedy, de Gaulle, and the Struggle for Europe

The proposals to establish a fleet of surface ships armed with Polaris missiles. It is widely regarded as a gimmick, even by many members of the Administration, and the Pentagon considers its military value as more than doubtful. Even its most ardent advocates agree that its main justification is political. The President does not accept this argument. Nor could he really afford to: the Administration has thought up no alternative ideas to put in its place. Indeed, the US would probably rather abandon it altogether if it cannot attract at least one other partner in addition to Germany.

Ideally the President had hoped to set off on this trip with the assurance that Britain at least would definitely join, and that this would act as an additional spur on Italy. In fact. Nor can he obtain one in Italy. The secret army organization, the oas , continued its war on the French government.

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Altogether, there were two dozen assassination attempts on de Gaulle. The air of aloofness surrounding the ruler was an essential governing tool. His sense of superiority never fails to amuse. In their dealings with him, exasperated American politicians repeatedly resorted to mountain imagery. De Gaulle gave us pronouncements from on high, but never had any real discussion; he was there, he would listen. He rarely told an outright lie, but was masterly in obfuscation and economizing with the truth. T he central tenet of Gaullism is self-reliance: The French needed to see themselves as part of a great nation, and should not rely on others for their national security and prosperity.

Thus de Gaulle oversaw the development of the French Force de Frappe , and sought to steer a kind of independent middle way between the blocs that was designed to maximize French influence.

Why Mr Kennedy is in Europe - archive, June 1963

But for a man priding himself on cold logic and clear thought, he could be remarkably incoherent and emotional, as Fenby demonstrates. He was an anti-communist, but seemed more intent on shutting America out of Europe. His initial desire to keep Germany weak had proved a nonstarter in the intensifying Cold War. Instead he tried to talk the Germans into some kind of Franco-German defense arrangement, but neither Konrad Adenauer nor his successor Ludwig Erhard bought the idea.

Vietnam became the centerpiece in his anti-American crusade, which would presumably curry favor with third world revolutionary movements.

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At the same time, France was always ready to shore up its favorite dictators in Africa. He warned the Israelis that he would not support them if they attacked first, but magnanimously stated that he would not allow Israel to be destroyed. They completely ignored it! Without telling anybody of his whereabouts, he flew off to the headquarters of French troops in West Germany to confer with the general in charge, Jacques Massu. The result was the great counter-demonstration of May 30 , followed by June elections in which the Left incurred a massive defeat.


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But this was his last triumph. After losing on a referendum on senate reform the following spring, on which he had staked his presidency, he retired on April 28, , to Colombey-les-Deux Eglises, quietly to work on his books. The original impulse of self-reliance behind Gaullism can be seen as positive, notes Fenby, as an attempt to take his countrymen out of their depression, and be part of a great national project. Most importantly, he brought stability. His Fifth Republic has survived: As Fenby notes, there were only three pm s from to , when he retired, versus the 21 under the Fourth Republic.

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Foreign policy of Charles de Gaulle

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