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The Grand Strategy of Charles de Gaulle

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While it can be argued that Charles de Gaulle was born a century too late, it cannot be denied that he was able to use his position as President of France to alter the international order of the day and to shape it more to his liking. His successes were due to his unswerving dedication to a world view which focused his considerable skills as a leader on a clear set of political, economic, and military objectives. His failures stemmed from inherent flaws in that view and feelings bordering on paranoia regarding the Anglo-Saxon role in the Western Alliance. Any analysis of de Gaulles grand strategy must stress his resourcefulness and stature as a world leader. He was unexcelled in his ability to seize any and every opportunity to promote his cause. He used Frances remaining power to maximize his efforts. However, de Gaulles personalized statesmanship could not offset two basic weaknesses in his grand strategy. These flaws denied de Gaulle the international and domestic support necessary to achieve his ambitious goals. The first problem was in de Gaulles unorthodox, back to the future world view. After fighting two World Wars against Germany and facing the growth of communism in Eastern Europe, most Western European leaders were seeking a new order to guarantee the balance of power. In their eyes, American participation in any such arrangement was taken for granted because of Americas relative strength and their need for support in confronting the Soviet Union. While many Europeans may have gone along with some constraints on American influence, few wanted to see the U.S. dealt out of continental affairs. An even more critical problem was de Gaulles obvious lack of means to achieve his grandiose objectives. Even if had been able to muster greater support for his vision of Europe among his Common Market colleagues, France lacked the necessary economic and military resources to fill the role he had prescribed for her.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Humanities and History

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