FRENCH FOREIGN POLICY IN THE WAKE OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK CRISIS

Created: 10/10/1968

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Intelligence Memorandum

FRENCH FOREIGN POLICY IN THE HAKE OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK CRISIS

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CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Directorate of Intelligence8

INTELLIGENCE MEMORANDUM

French Foreign Policy in the Wake of Che Czechoslovak Crisis

Summary

De Gaulle's initial response to the invasion of Czechoslovakia was "business as usual" with the invaders. Recent evidence, however, suggests that the French President may be reappraising his policies to ensure that France continues toominant role in Europe. It is not clear yet what he wants or where he intends to go, but it would appear that he isew look at the question of European security. The last several weeks appear to haveime of floating trial balloons, of probing for reactions, of looking for new approaches. Whether French foreign policy is in anew initiative inor toward temporary retreat to concentrate on domesticbecome clear only in thc months to come.

Office of Strategic Research.

memorandum was produced solely by CIA. It waa prepared by the Office of Current Intelligence and coordinated with the Office of national Estimates

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De Gaulle's Vtews on the Eve of tlie Czechoslovak Cr:sij

the ironths just prior to theintervention inethat he was witnessing significantaccomplishment of his long-range goalsentente, and then cooperation" inwas encouraged by the increasinglytaken by many regimes in Eastern Europe andcourse of political liberalization in Do Gaulle told confidants that thethe combined pressure of domestic strifeVietnam war, would be forced to adopt arole in Europe. Thus, looking to thethe West, De Gaulle saw signs which confirmed

his view that the tensions of the past were subsiding, and that the "policy of blocs" was becomingobsolete.

this assessment. Do Gaullenumber of policy initiatives which heleadtill further relaxation ofcontacts with Eastern Europe and the Franco-Soviet scientific andcontinued to flourish. France alsoto oppose the entrance of Britain intoMarket in order to ensure French primacyEurope. olution to theas the key to detente in Europe, Declose ties with Bonn and encouragedtoiberal policy toward At the same time, De Gaulle moved toFrench relations with the UnitedPrasident Johnson's announcement onlimiting bombing in Vietnam, Frenchevery level of the governmentuchattitude toward the US. No policybut it was clear that the Elysee wasalter the style, if not the substance, oftoward the US.

3. The Soviet military interventionrastic setback for De Gaulle. In late July he had characterized the Czechoslovakas "but an episode in the inevitable process of gradually relaxing Russian control over the countries of the socialist bloc." Although his

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minister, Michel Debre,lear alarm, De Gaulle appears to have believed to the end that the Soviets would not use military force in their dispute with Prague.

Post-Crisis Assessment

4. In thc first weeks following theof Czechoslovakia, De Gaulle seemedto continue his major policiessurprise and disappointment over the turn His post-invasion statementinvasion, criticizing the "policy ofaffirming the correctness of his detenteneither contradicted nor repudiated anyenunciated in the past. The immediatewas that De Gaulle had not beenan "agonizing reappraisal" of hishe acknowledged that his goal ofbeen "momentarily thwarted." Generalestablished which laidbusiness asin cultural, scientific, and economicwhich provided for curtailment onhange in the Soviet posture. emphasis on detente, coupled withunwillingness to see NATO strengthenedthe focal point of Western discussion andseemed to confirm that he believedoviet attack on Wostern Europe The general outline of French policy,clear f early Septenber: :ia tO and reappraisals and yes to detente. umber of signs began toraised the possibility that De Gaulle was inrethinking his

5. Lending credence to the view that French foreign policy mayew turnDe Gaulle has just calledajcr^revRwot^ foreign policy by December under the direction of Prime Minister Maurice Couve de Murville. Despite his contradictory statements in the post-invasion days on the possibility of aggression, it seems clear he himself does notussian military move. His neighbors in Western Europe, however, and particularly in Bonn, are fearful of futureand it is their reaction which prompted his recent actions.

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6. De Gaulle hopes to prevent the Czechoslovak crisis from driving the Germans more closely into the arms of the US and forcing Bonn to assert its own interest more actively at Franco's expense. Either development would lessen France's ability to exert substantial influence over certain aspects of Bonn's foreign policy. Nevertheless, France's inept tactics during the recent Deiesinger talks appear only to have exacerbated Franco-German Do Gaulle noL only failed to offer thepledge of military support so desired by Kiesinger, but he also infuriated the Germanby suggesting that German policy might haveactor in provoking the Soviet invasion. These counterproductive moves may have stemmed from De Gaulle's uncertainty about which tack to take in the new situation brought about by the Czechoslovak crisis. His perplexity about the best means tohis dominant role in Western Europe without committing France unilaterally to the position of defender may explain the recent surfacing of two different approaches to European security.

Possible Ales

7. One of the ideas which came to light in mid-September concerned the possible revival of the concepturopean Defense Community (EDC).*

*France proposed0 and then rejected4 the original EDC treaty. This treaty called for an integrated European army with national units from the participating countries, which included only the "littleGermany, Italy, and the Benelux countries. ommissariat with weightedfrom the member countries was to function as the executive body, with the Council of Ministers of the European Coal and Steel Community participating in some decisions. At the same time that the foreign ministers of the Six signed the EDC, they alsoutual defense treaty with the UK. France, Britain and the US thenripartite declaration in which the latter two signatories stated that any menacing action against the EDC would be regarded as an attack on their own security. Gaullists vehemently opposed the treaty, which they believed would have an

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indicated that it was the French whoinitiative in proposing an EDC during the De GaulleKiesinger talkseptember. The reports, however,umber of points which seemed questionable: that the us was willing to see an organization parallel to NATO and led by France established at this juncture; that Paris woulduxopean military grouping in which some of the members, and notably Germany, would alsoto bo members of NATO; that France woulda mixed command in place of French control; and that De Gaullo would accept the UK in such aeven though London continued to keep its nuclear weapons under the NATO aegis.

both French and Germanqueried on the issue, stated that there wasto the stories. anking Frenchofficial labeled the stories "purewith De Gaulle's military thinking.

I thc Deiosinger talks qave HU Mint that the subject was raised.

does seem reasonably clear is thatballoon was being floated, probably bybut encouraged by the French* and aimedsome sort of response from the US. it is doubtful that either Bonn or Parisconsidering the concept of an EDC atthe trial balloon reflects bothfor reassurance on security and France'sin meeting that need.

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effect on France's national army. They joined with other parties to vote down the treaty in the National Assembly.

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econd idea, surfaced late in September, is that De Gaulle is interested in re-opening tripartite discussions on the nuclear defense of Europe. Quai Director of American Affairs Jurgensen, when asked to comment on the substance of the talkseptember between Ambassador Shriver and De Gaulle, interpreted Dc Gaulle's comments as an indication of interost in US-UK-French discussionsuclear directorate. eading of the cable reporting Shriver's account of the talks, this intention does not come through. The primary thrust of De Gaulle's argument, according to Shriver, was that tho US could not be counted on touclear war to defend Western Europe. De Gaulle maintained that because European countries either singly or collectively lacked the strength to stand up to the Russians, the prime question was whether tho US would respond immediately with nuclear weapons if German borders were violated. He said France would not regard an invasion of West Germany as anoftand which Shriver believed explained De Gaulle's conviction that the US, too, would not deploy all its resources in such a Although De Gaulle repeatedly refused to give Shriver any indication that France would any new ccmrr.itiwn ts regarding security of the West, he stated that if the US responded with all of its power to an attack on Europe, France would respond with all its power.

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11. It is possible that Do Gaulle wouldripartite agreement automatically to commit nuclear weapons to the defense of Europe as agoal. The political and military aspects of such an agreement are intertwined, as they were8 when De Gaulle originally proposed adirectorate involving the same three powers, and he would doubtless hope to reap political as well as military benefits. For such an arrangement to be acceptable to France, De Gaulle would have to be recognized by the other participants as speaking for Europe. He would expect toeto on the use of nuclear weapons in Europe as welluarantee that the weapons would be used if France so requested. Washington's announced policy of responding in the first instanceonventional attack with its own conventional forces has never

been acceptable to De Gaullle, who sees the flexible response theory as an Indication that the US,howdown, would not risk its own existence for Europo.

De Gaulle might be interested intriumvirate, then, is possible. He isenough, however, to realize thatnot readily abandon the theory ofandripartite directorate wouldto Bonn. British support for such adepend on whether London believed it toFrench maneuver to keep the UKof Europe or whether participation would bea step toward inclusion in future Westernarrangments. Despite this, De Gaulleto capitalize on the recent thaw inrelations and on Washington's interest in

Problems of Europe's defense to persuade the US to enter into bilateral discussions on the question.

Gaulle may, then, have decided thatin Western Europe created by thecrisis make some new move necessary. Itfrom his initial response that he isto proposalsevival and He may, however, feel the need toa counter to demands for a Even if such alternatives shouldunacceptable, he would have again takenin the world arena and would have an answercharges by critics that he was unresponsive to

the new situation in Europe. Future French proposals mayesemblance to the two defense ideasrevival of some form of an EDCripartite nuclearit is also possible that some new and as yet undisclosed scheme may be outlined.

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possible course of action hasby British diplomats. The logicalDe Gaulle's mind, according to theselead him not only to oppose furtherEuropean economic and political unity,to retreatolicy verging on isolationist

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neutralism. Ranking Gorman officials, too, fear De Gaulle may be in the process of withdrawing from his commitments. ecision to concentrate on France's internal problems to the exclusion of foreign policy initiatives is not beyond the realm of possibility. It wouldajorfrom previous Gaullist policy, however, and would probably only bo pursued if his foreign policy gambits had failod badly.

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