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Kennedy and Macmillian met in Nassau,where,on December 21,they

agreed to modernize the Anglo-American nuclear partnership. America


would compensate Great Britain for the Skybolt by selling it five
Polaris submarines and associated missiles,for wich great Britain
would develop its own nuclear warheads.The in tegration of British
forces into NATO turned out to be largely token.Since Great Britain
was free to use the submarines whenever in its supreme national
interests,and since, by definition ,the use of nuclear weapons would
never be considered except when the supreme national interest was at
stake,the Nassau Agreement effectively conceded to Great Britain by
confrontation.The difference between the British and French attitudes
toward their nuclear weapons was that Great Britain was prepared to
sacrifice form to substance ,whereas de Gaulle ,in striving to reassert
Frances identity,equated form with substance.

Therefore ,under the leadership of the Gaulle,France raised the


philosophical issue of the nature of Atlantic cooperation in a way which
turned into a contest for the leadership of Europe and ,for America ,into a
reacquaintance with the historic style of European diplomacy.
In the 1960s,at the height of his running controversary with the United
States,it became fashionable to accuse the French President of suffering
from delusions of grandeur.His problem was in fact the precise
opposite:how to restore identity to a country suffused with a sense of
failure and vulnerability.Unlike America,France was not supremely
powerful;unlike Great Britain, it did not view World War II as a unifying
or even an edifying ,experience.Few countries have experienced the
travails of France after it had lost much of its youth in World War I.The
survivors of that catastrophe realized that France could not withstand
another such ordeal.In these terms,WW I became a nightmare come
true,rendering Frances collapse in 1940 a psychological as well as a
military disaster.

The resulting conflict between France and the United States became all the more bitter
because the two sides,profoundly misunderstanding each other ,never seemed to be
talking about the same subject.
Nothing within Frances centuries-long tradition of conducting diplomacy led it to such
conclusions.Ever since Richelieu, Frances initiatives had invariably grown out of a
calculation of risks and reward.As the product of that tradition , de Gaule was less
concerned with the nature of consultative machinery than with accumulating options
for the contingency of disagreement.De Gaulle believed that these options would
determine the relative bargaining positions.To de Gaulle,sound relations among nations
depended on calculations of interests,not on formal procedures for settling disputes.He
did not view harmony as a natural state,but as something that had to be wrested out of a
conflict of interests:Man limited by his nature is infinite in his desires.The world is
thus of opposing forces.Of course,human wisdom has often succeded in preventing
these rivalries from degeneration into murderous conflicts.But the competition of
efforts is the condition of life....In the last analysis and as always ,it is only in
equilibrium that the world will find peace.

This explains de Gaulles nearly stereotype diplomatic procedure of


submitting proposals with a minimum of explanation ,and,if they were
rejected,implementing them unilaterally.
De Gaulle was not anti-American in principle.He was willing to
cooperate whenever ,in his view French and American interests
genuinely converged.Thus ,during the Cuban missile crisis,American
officials were astonished by the Gaulles all-out supportthe most
unconditional backing extended to them by any allied leader.During a
visit to Paris in 1959 ,President Eisenhower tackled the issue head-on
when he asked the French leader:Why do you doubt that America
would identify its fate with Europe?In light of Einsenhowers conduct
during the Suez crisis,it was an odd and somewhat self-righteous
questions.De Gaulle politely responded by reminding Eisenhower of
more remote lessons of its history.America had not come to Frances
rescue in the first World War until after three years of mortal peril,and
America had entered the Second WW only after France was already
occupied.In the Nuclear Age,both interventions would have come too
late.

In the first decade of the postwar era ,it seemed as if nuclear monopoly had fulfilled
Americas visions of omnipotence.But by the end of the 1950s it was becoming
obvious that each of the nuclear superpowers would soon be able to inflict on the other
a level of devastation no previous society could have imagined,threatening the survival
of civilization itself.This realization was at the heart of a revolution that was about to
change the very nature of international relations.Though weapons had been
progressively growing more sophisticated,their destructiveness had remained relatively
limited up until the end of the Second WW.Never had the military gap between a
superpower and a non-nuclear state been greater;never was it less likely to be
invoked.Neither North Korea nor North Vietnam was deterred by Americans nuclear
arsenal from pursuing its objectives,even against America military forces;nor were the
Afghan guerrillas deterred by the nuclear capacity of the Soviet Union.The nuclear Age
turned strategy into deterrence ,and deterrence into an esosteric intellectual exercise.To
enhance nuclear deterrence,America and its allies had an incentive to emphasize both
the certainty and the ferocity of their reaction to challenge.To increase the credibility of
the threat,but also to reduce the scale of the disaster shuld deterrence fail,America had
an even greater incentive to find ways to make nuclear war more calculable and less
catastrophic.Discriminating targeting,central command and control,and a strategy of
flexible response became increasingly fashionable among Americas defense
intellectuals.

The difference between the American and the European approaches to


nuclear strategy presented an insoluble dilemma.Great Britains and
Frances desire to retain some control over decisions affecting their
destinies was both understandable and in keeping with their
histories.Americas concern about not compounding the perils of the
Nuclear Age by the solitary initiatives of allies was equally valid.