FRANCE AND THE ATLANTIC ALLIANCE
APPROVED FOR PE1EASE DATE:9
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Directorate of7
France and the Atlanticxxary
De Gaulle's assurance in6 that France, although it was withdrawing its forces fromto the NATO military organization, wouldignatory to the North Atlantic Treaty and ain the North Atlantic Council still stands as the official French position. There is ampleto believe, however, that De Gaulle's views of the current world situation might lead him to utilize the escape clause which he built into his pledge ofpromise to remain in the Alliance only so long as there was no fundamental change in Soviet-Western relations.
At this point, De Gaulle not only believes that the cold warhing of the past and the chanceilitary confrontation between Western Europe and the Soviet Union increasingly unlikely, but he also thinks that the existence of two blocs is anto the general European settlement that he hopes to bring about. More concerned at present with growing US power and the dominant role played by the US in Europe than with fears of Soviet hegemony, De Gaulle might decide to move against what he believes is the prime vehicle of US influence in Europe, the Atlantic Alliance.
>]ote: This memorandum was produced solely by CIA
It was prepared by the Office of Current Intelligence
and coordinated with the Office of National Estimates,
De Gaulle may not yet have decidedpecific course of action. omplete withdrawal from the Alliance, however, would be the logical culmination of the policy which De Gaulle began when he withdrew the French Mediterranean fleet9 from itsto NATO. Moreover, he quite clearly isthat his foreign policy moves be setourse which would be difficult to reverse after he departs from the scene and he hasimited time for action.
France's Present Role Within the Alliance
Eighteen months ago Charles de Gaullethe series of measures which cut France's ties with the military structure of the Atlantic Alliance. ost of arrangements now govern Paris' cooperation in most areas. No over-allexists, and the various accommodations reached with its North Atlantic Council (NAC) partners leave France with freedom of action on major issues.
Paris now has liaison missions assigned to the NATO Military Committee and military commands;
it continues to participate in defense communications and the early warning system; it maintains twoin Germany, which it will hold ready toin wartime if France decides to side with its fourteen partners; and it takes part in research, development, production, and logistics activities. Only one major piece of unsettled business remains: the issue of France's financial responsibility to the Fourteen including claims resulting from Paris' unilateral action.
Official Position Toward the Atlantic Alliance
basic position on the Northas distinct from the militarywhich France has already withdrawn, wasin De Gaulle's letter in6 towhich outlined France's intentions De Gaulle indicated at that point thatin the worldinEuropemade theid not in any wayFrench Government to challenge the treatyWashington AprilBarring events thatyears to come might modifyundamentalrelations between East and West, it does notto take advantage of Articlef thepermits denunciation] and considers thatshould continue for as long as appears Shortly thereafter, French Foreign Minister
Maurice Couve de Murville reiterated that thehadfficially and solemnly that it had no intention of denouncing [the treaty! when the time comes, that is to say, within the next three years."
that time, in numerous publicstatements, De Gaulle and his entourageFrance's continuing loyalty to the In talks with the Italian ambassadorwith Danish Prime Minister Krag, withMinister Harmel, and with Germanas late as July of this year, Derestated his intention toignatorytreaty "under foreseeable conditions." MostFrench ambassador to the US Charlesawayiscussion with De Gaulle inwith the quite clear impression thatPresident did not intend to withdraw. admitted to Secretary Rusk that De Gaulleactually said specifically that he would notthe option given by
Indications of Early Denunciation
these pledges of loyalty, thereindications that France is consideringthe Alliance. Paris hinted that it mightpolicy of disengagement beyond the militarySeptemberhen France dissociated from the report on East-West relations drawnthe political advisers for the North Atlantic Paris argued that it would be harmful to draw
common political line" to follow in East-West contacts. Later, France adamantly opposed languageAC communique that would have, inommon stand on the Middle East crisis.
new and potentially more seriousFrance and its allies now seems to beover the so-called Harmelreview oftasks of the Alliance. The study is designed
to giveajor role in promoting East-Westa matter which Paris believes should be handled bilaterally. France has indicated its greatwith the lines which the study is now taking,that an "exchange of views" in NAC should not be extendedystem of obligations orby the allies outside the NATO area. Should the study resulttatement of Alliance policya commitment on the part of its members, De Gaulle would almost certainly move to dissociated France from such policy implications. He might even cite iteason to cut all ties with the Alliance, in which case he would merely be using it as an excuse toecision based on other grounds.
These attitudes can be interpreted as aagainst the Fourteen moving toward politicalin opposition to French objectives. warning signals have been detected ir.onths.
North Atlantic Council, Roger Seydoux, was told by Couve that his job would not last more thanonths beyond. Later, the French ambassador to the European Communities stated that the Seydoux job would last untilt which time France would give notice of its intention to withdraw.
based on his dossier,contain the usual statement of France's loyalty to the Alliance.
| De Gaulle told Ru-naurer during his7 stopoverould leave the Alliance
Lt. General M. G. Ailleret, jhief of Staff Charles6 that France's seat in the be empty."
torci:u; has been
a spate of articles in the French press on the pes- lW8Trs sibility of France's withdrawal. One of the latest nd most provocative was aneptember article--which may have been officiallythe left-wing Gaullist Louis Vallon, who argued that De Gaulle's acts are leading him inevitablyreak with the Alliance. Vallon indicated that the General would "most likely" put the question to the French peopleeferendum early8 if heto withdraw. Several journalists and othersources, such as the director of the reputable French Institute for Public Opinion, indicated Val-lon's article should be taken seriously.
De Gaulle's Broad Objectives
De Gaulle's return to power inhas consistently maintained that changes inEurope, and in the world balance of powerof the structure and functioning of thesystem, which was created whenow ebb. He equates "integration" under
the aegis of NATO with "subordination" to the UShe maintains it perpetuates military dependence on the US, which in turn creates political dependence. The French President's concern over the role the US plays in Europe is particularly acute now because he believes the US has emerged as the sole superpowerufficient Russian counterweight to balance the equation.
up inextricably with his obsessiveto reduce US power, particularly in Europe,Gaulle's "grand design" for Europe involvingcreationroad confederationWestern and Eastern Europe. The generalwhich would be an integral part ofwould almost inevitably call forof both the Atlantic Alliance and the
De Gaulle's view, then,irect obstacle to the achievement ofhis prime goals. He has never been attachedtreaty for any other reason than its promisefrom military attack. Following theof his gambit8ripartitehouse on global problems, the Generalvarious times indicated his preference forof bilateral agreements among the majorpowers. This solution, he believes, wouldthe protection of the US nuclear umbrellaperpetuating US influence in France orautomatically in US policy moves.
The French view of the State of Detente in Europe
De Gaulle pledged fidelity to the Alliance only so long as the basic relations between East and West were governed by mutual hostility and theof overt attack. The escape clause which he unfailingly added to any public or privateof support for the Alliance was that his pledge was valid until the "ambitions and threats of the Soviets" disappeared. How far along the path of detente has Europe, in De Gaulle's eyes, movod?
De Gaulle believes that the era of the cold war has comelose and that there is little likelihoodirect military confrontationthe Soviet Union and the countries of Western Europe. Inhortly before he announced France's withdrawal from NATO, De Gaulle Bpoke of
ish to lead the great endeavor ofwith the East, so happily In6 he stated that "today, the cold war seems aof laughter between all these peoples androwing and friendly cooperation is beingnd in7 the French President spokeeplacing the dangerous tensions of yesterday with Eastern Europe by fruitful and cordial relations."
15. Former premier Edgar Faure,ember of De Gaulle's cabinet, has explicitly stated that
"there is no longer any danger of war due to ainvasion of Europe." He would thus, he stated, experience no crisis of conscience if Prance left the Alliance. Well-informed Gaullist commentator Georges Broussine indicatedeptember issue of his newsletter that the threat of an attack from Russia had disappeared. In contrasthen French statements generally termed the threat as greatly reduced but still existing, these assertions by Faure and Broussine are not qualified in any.
pronouncements on detenteaccompanied by practical action to forward Although De Gaulle learned duringto Poland in7 that mostnations are unwilling to relinquishbenefits of the Warsaw Pact for hisgoal of an East-West settlement,looks for progress through theof high-level exchanges and agreements ir.technical, and cultural spheres.
Possible Consequences of Withdrawal
De Gaulle believerenchfrom the Alliance would deprive France ofof the US nuclear umbrolla? The USSReyes no longerenuine threat to Even if he thinks some small threatto exist, De Gaulle doubtless reasons thatis more than sufficient to deter any openprobably is confident that the US will remainto Europe not only because of its moralbutmoreofof allowing the USSR to control Europe's This commitment of the US to the restwould, he believes,ufficientFrance because he discounts the possibilitywould be an isolated targetoviet attack.
1?; withdrawal from the Alliance would still leave De Gaulle the option ofilateral agreement with
the US. Ho could reason that the US nightilaceralonvenient way to maintain someof planning, logistics, infrastructure and air defense. eparate Franco-American agreement would be eminently satisfactory in De Gaulle's eyes,it would have few of the disadvantages and nose of the advantagesultilateral treaty. Paris would stillormal link which would permitof views. However, it would no longerartloc which De Gaulle believes is splitting the world and it could avoid being linked with broad political objectives with which it had little Most important, it would permit Paris to claim equality with Washington.
Would France by withdrawalorum to advance its policieshance to influence the policies of others? De Gaulle would answer "no"hesitation. One of France's continuing complaints about the Alliance is that the us has ignored its partners in most matters of vital interest andthem only after the fact even when unilateral US moves could have involved the Alliance in war. Furthermore, Paris has already indicated the limited value it attaches to the consultative machinery of the Alliance. France clearly finds bilateralfor the most part more profitable and has steered clear of multilateral approaches whenever possible. Then, too, Paris still has an important forum in Europe in the EEC, and further more De Gaulle clearly feels he is speaking to the whole world in his press conferences and TV addresses.
Would France's withdrawal damage itswith its other allies? De Gaulle's greatest concern would be the effect of his move on Franco-German relations. The recent course of events,would probably lead him to conclude that he could withdraw without seriously damaging the Paris-Bonn connections. Following France's withdrawal from the military organization, the West Germans, after some initial hesitancy, opted for preserving
military ties with France to the greatest extent Ultimately Bonn made numeroussome not wholly acceptable to the rest of thekeep French troops in West Germany. The joint Franco-German study of European securityin thestudy apparently initiated byserve to link the two countries even should Paris sever all formal ties with its allies.
Few if any of the other Alliance members are likely to seek retaliation against France for withdrawal. Thee Gaulle era figuresin their thinking and they might hope to keep open whatever channels possible, as most of them did after France withdrew from NATO.
For certain of the Alliance members, other policy considerationsoderate attitudeFrance. For the EEC members, France's role in that organization is too pivotal to risk any kind of split over the North Atlantic Treaty. Nor willbe able to forget that its actions in thecould affect its chances for entry in the EEC
or Canada to ignore the consequences of anyactions on the Quebecois.
would France's withdrawalhinder De Gaulle's European plans? De Gaulleexpect the other Alliance members, despite
a certain evolution in their thinking on relations with the Eastrowing awareness that theirand those of the US do not always run paral-le', to remain within the Alliance. Over the longer run, however, he probably would hope that hismight prompt some serious thinking as to whether the maintenance of thethe Warsaw Pact-was compatible with the demandsuropean In the meantime, free of any multilateraland still protected by the US nuclearDe Gaulle could continue his role as thebroker" in bringing East and West together and
at the same time enhance French prestige andFrench independence.
Possible Timing of Action
f the treaty providesthe treaty has been in force for twenty years,
any party may cease toarty one year after its notice of denunciation." Thus De Gaulle could move as early as French Foreign Ministrycontend that the article should be interpreted to meanarty may give notice of denunciationo take effectlthough otherbelieve that the notice of intention cannot be given In any event, as Parisduring the earlier period of its withdrawal from the military organizations, legalities will be ignored if they conflict with the major policy aims.
factor which might dictate89 is that De Gaulle'sterm endst which time he will beFrench President wants to ensure, before histhat he has set France on anpolicy course. Although withdrawal fromwould not absolutely guarantee thatnot rejoin after De Gaulle's death orit would certainly make it more difficultto retrace its steps. Moreover, bystep before his term of office expired Dehave time both to convince the people ofof his action and to take parallel stepsrapprochement with the East.
Public Kospor.se in France to Withdrawal
26. The apathy in France when Paris withdrew from the military organization will probably prevail should France pull out of the Alliance itself,De Gaulle did cushion the blow by indicating his intentions toignatory to the treaty.
In part, the lack of concern reflects generalof the French people in foreign policy matters. Even at the height of the NATO crisis over French withdrawal,mall minority of Frenchmengreat concern over the decision. Then, too, by the time France wouldecision toa certain amount of "conditioning" wouldhave taken place. Using theradio and TV facilities and GaullistDe Gaulle couldeasoned picture of the need for French withdrawal. Should he be sure of winning, he might eveneferendumto "consult" the public on his projected course of action. The possible use of the referendum was raised by Vallon in his news article and other sources have indicated it might in factseful device. De Gaulle in theparticularly on hisused the referendum to emphasize public solidarity with his course of action in order to undercut any opposition.
current polls are available whichthe average Frenchman's feelings about the An August poll does indicate,ercent of the people felt that Franceon the whole, on the side of the US, takingthe world situation. This figure was asix percentage points from6 anda real fearlose relationshipUS does carry the possibility of involvementsituations such as Vietnam. Anotherpoll showed thatercent of the peopleof De Gaulle's over-all foreign policywhich already are tendingreak atwith the Alliance. Thus, even without aon the North Atlantic Treaty itself, the trend
of the other polls would indicate that there would be no great popular hue and cry should France withdraw.
the government party and thewould suffer some divisions overprobably the rifts would not be deep enough to
cause serious damage, while Valery Giscard d'Estaing and his Gaullist-allied Independent Republicans are more Atlantic minded than the orthodox Gaullists, they would probably be unwilling to create acrisis over an issue which would arouse little public response. The Center fcr Progress andof Jean Lecanuet would be most opposed to the move, but it is too small to have any impact. The French Communist Party (PCF) would welcome the move, although this would bring it into some conflict with its would-be partner, the Federation of the Left. Federation President Francois Mitterrand has been somewhat ambiguous on the issue, however, and his "attachment" to the Alliance would certainly take second place to such considerations as the effect of any open support for the treaty on his relations with the PCF and his general standing with the Even staunch Atlanticist Guy Mollet of thepart of thebeen less than forthright in support of the Alliance,eflection of his hopeseturn to power as partnited left which would need at least the tacit support of the Communists. Thus, De Gaulle's freedom of action will probably not be limited by domestic political considerations.Original document.