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Charles de Gaulle and the Break with Atlanticism

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Research paper

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France was a nation struggling in the late 1950s. The economy was stagnant and the military weakened by its missions in Vietnam and Algeria. The fragmentation of political parties precluded any hope for consensus in domestic or international affairs. In 1958, Charles de Gaulle was elected president. The Fifth Republic was formed, along with a new constitution that replaced a parliamentary form of government with one that granted greater powers to the executive branch. De Gaulle wasted little time before announcing his focus on international affairs. He was disturbed by the decline of French stature in the world. He believed that France had the universal mission to use its power for the benefit of others. Frances mission grand design was to be one of peace and to lead Europe as a balancing third force in a world suffering under the hegemony of the two superpowers the United States and the Soviet Union. If de Gaulle was to restore France as the leader in Europe and a major power in the world, he could not cede power to anyone. One of his core principles was to sustain the will and ability to make independent judgements in all spheres of activity military, political, economic, and social. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effectiveness of Charles de Gaulles statecraft in his attempt to break the Atlantic Alliance and create a powerful, French-led Europe. President de Gaulle left the Presidency without achieving his strategic objective of a French-led Europe, primarily for three reasons 1 while possession of nuclear weapons allowed him to stray from NATO, it was not enough for the world to bestow upon France the recognition as a world leader 2 de Gaulles style of leadership and diplomacy alienated most leaders and 3 the primary reason for de Gaulles failure to achieve world power status for France was his neglect of domestic economic and social issues.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Humanities and History

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