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World Trends

Franco-American Antagonism Deepens

by Hsin Wen

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 9, #5, Jan. 28, 1966, pp. 18-19.]

Franco-American conflict has become the principal contradiction within the disintegrating imperialist camp. The two-nation battle is not only going on inside the Western bloc, with Washington fighting a losing battle to retain domination and Paris resisting. The confrontation has become worldwide, covering a whole range of important political, economic and military problems.

THE struggle often finds France acting on the offensive, challenging U.S. hegemony in the West. French attacks have shaken the aggressive military blocs under the American thumb, thus compounding the confusion in the imperialist camp.

Rebuffed on all sides, Washington has always tried to defend its position and rebound from its reverses by doing everything possible to isolate and weaken Paris.

Key points in Franco-American antagonism in the past year were:

1) French President de Gaulle spoke out clearly against joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. domination of the world;

2) France frowned upon the U.S. war in Vietnam and U.S. intervention in the Dominican Republic and opposed the Johnson Administration’s attempt to drag its allies into its military adventures;

3) Seeing that the position of the United States had been weakened in both cases, France challenged the United States in the United Nations and also rejected the dollar as a world currency.

4) Taking advantage of the U.S. predicament in south Vietnam and other difficulties, France demanded a thorough shake-up of NATO, bringing the organization to the brink of collapse. It opposed the United States on the question of nuclear armament, a key NATO question.

Soon after New Year, 1965, de Gaulle launched his offensive against the dollar—one of Washington’s weapons to maintain economic domination overseas and pursue neo-colonialist designs. At a press conference, the French President attacked the gold exchange standard—under which the dollar and pound sterling are accepted by the other Western countries to balance international accounts and as reserve holdings—and called for a return to the gold standard to end the privileged status of the dollar.

Later, France quit the gold exchange standard bloc and turned in its large dollar holdings to the United States for gold. Other West European countries soon followed suit, which resulted in the outflow of a large amount of American gold and endangered the dollar’s stability and dominant position in the capitalist world.

Another front opened by France in 1965 was to attack the U.S. tool for aggression—the United Nations. In 1964, France refused to share the expenses of the “U.N. force” which had served U.S. aggression in the Congo (L). In 1965, de Gaulle attacked the United Nations politically. At a press conference, he pointed out that the real cause for the U.N. crisis lay in its manipulation by a few big powers to interfere in the domestic affairs of other nations. Specifically, he accused the United States of manipulating the United Nations to adopt the resolutions sanctioning armed aggression against Korea and to interfere in the internal affairs of the Congo (L).

At the U.N. Security Council discussion on the Dominican situation, France openly denounced the United States for sending marines to intervene in the Dominican Republic. During the U.N. General Assembly debate on the restoration of China’s legitimate seat, France also took issue with the United States.

In order to internationalize its war of aggression in Vietnam, and in accordance with the shift in strategic stress to the Far East, the United States attempted to use SEATO and NATO to force its allies to serve its policy of aggression in Asia, first of all, to support its expansion of the war of aggression in Vietnam and opposition to China. On this question, France and other U.S. partners refused, in their own interest, to pull Washington’s chestnuts out of the fire.

For various reasons, France has shown “disapproval” of the Johnson Administration’s war escalation in Vietnam and called for the “neutralization of Southeast Asia.” De Gaulle emphasized again in a recent electioneering speech that France did not wish to be dragged, under the pretext of “Atlantic integration,” into a war which it wanted no part of.

Last year also saw France stepping up its offensive against the United States within the North Atlantic bloc—the traditional battlefield of the two countries—and even threatening a showdown. For years, Washington has assumed command over its allies’ armed forces in the name of military “integration.” Furthermore, it has tried to “dissolve” these forces in an “Atlantic community” in which the United States would safely rule the roost.

De Gaulle, however, challenged the United States under the slogan of “national independence” and “Europe for the Europeans.” He openly announced that, in 1969 at the latest when the NATO pact is due to expire, France “will end, so far as we are concerned, the subordination described as integration ... which places our destiny in the hands of foreigners.”

For the same motives, France has bitterly opposed Washington’s scheme to use nuclear weapons to control other NATO member nations. It has emphasized over and over that it must have its own nuclear power. It has resolutely opposed the U.S. attempt to let West Germany share nuclear weapons in any form—an American device to woo Bonn and turn West Germany against France. Paris is also strongly against the American designs to swallow up its independent nuclear power through Washington’s “multilateral nuclear force” plan. After this plan ran into difficulties, France again boycotted the new American proposal for the establishment of a NATO “special nuclear committee,” a proposal aimed at in part satisfying the West German ambition to possess nuclear weapons.

Relations between Paris and Bonn also reflected French antagonism to the United States. Paris is not only against Bonn’s plan to acquire nuclear weapons through the United States, but also against its scheme to turn Western Europe, with American support, into a politically and economically integrated “federation” in which West Germany would get the upper hand by dint of its superior strength.

Thus, when the Erhard government showed increased signs of depending mainly on the United States, France turned down West Germany’s pet plan to hold a meeting of the Common Market Six to discuss the question of political co-operation. Since the end of June 1965, France has boycotted all activities of the Common Market and thus inactivated the bloc for the last six months. The French boycott also killed the “Kennedy Round” talks on tariff and trade between the United States and the Common Market. This was a blow not only at West Germany but also at the United States.

Greatly nettled by these French moves in the past year, Washington has tried, by both tough and soft means, to make Paris change its line; but all these attempts failed. Consequently, the Johnson Administration resorted to interference in France’s internal affairs. A month before the recent French presidential elections, the U.S. State Department launched a propaganda campaign with the obvious intention of disparaging de Gaulle. During the elections, the United States gave energetic support to the pro-U.S. presidential candidate. Nevertheless, to Washington’s regret, de Gaulle was re-elected despite U.S. meddling.

France’s fight against U.S. domination will go on. France under de Gaulle cannot be expected to bow to Washington’s dictate and play second fiddle to the United States in tackling the problems of Europe. With the U.S. global position in general and its position in Europe in particular growing worse and worse, the tug of war between Washington and Paris is likely to become more fierce.

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