By Philip H. Gordon
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Extra info for A Certain Idea of France: French Security Policy and Gaullist Legacy
The policies and practices of the Fourth Republic presaged Gaullist policies in a number of ways, and what appeared to be a great break with the past—de Gaulle’s pursuit of grandeur and disagreements with NATO—was, in fact, not so great a THE MISSING PILLAR 25 change. At no time since the collapse of the Maginot line in June 1940 was Western Europe the French army’s primary concern, and at no time after 1950 did French troops play a leading role there. From the very start of the postwar era, France was more preoccupied with its global than with its European role.
Nation-states had this primary role to de Gaulle, though, not only because they were legitimate representatives and valid actors but also because they were the only actors capable of real achievement. It was a simple matter of organization and authority: the state was the only unit that could act with sufﬁcient power, authority, and skill. Other organizations could certainly produce similar bureaucracies, but none, without the cohesion that history had delegated to the nation-state and the popular loyalty that was necessary to support it, could ever effectively act in those great matters on which government must decide.
This debate of historic proportions, thirty years later, has largely died down and has been tempered by pragmatism on both sides. In France, few “Gaullists” remain who feel the need to assert the centrality of the nation-state as strongly as the General did, and just as few “Europeans” still believe in the inevitable disappearance of the state. Whereas on 14 CHAPTER 1 one hand the great successes of the European Community have demonstrated the need for cooperation and the pooling of national sovereignty, the breakup of artiﬁcial federations in Eastern Europe and the USSR, as well as the disturbing growth in the xenophobic extreme Right in Western Europe, are reminders of the importance of the legitimate national community.
A Certain Idea of France: French Security Policy and Gaullist Legacy by Philip H. Gordon