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Point of Departure: A Reassessment of Charles de Gaulle and the Paris Summit of May 1960

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This article argues that the Franco-American antagonism of the 1960s, which culminated with France's partial withdrawal from NATO in 1966, stems from French president Charles de Gaulle's decision in the aftermath of the failed May 1960 Paris Summit to radically redirect French foreign policy away from its post-World War Two Atlantic orientation to a more European one. By linking the failed summit to de Gaulle's new perception of the Cold War, this article moves de Gaulle scholarship away from interpretations of his foreign policy as the product of anti-Americanism or an anachronistic vision of French power to an understanding rooted in his recognition that the changing dynamics of the Cold War required the Western Europeans to reduce their military dependence on the United States. Since American leaders would never willingly relinquish their dominant position in European security affairs, de Gaulle's new design almost ensured a rising Franco-American tension.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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