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Atlantis Lost

Atlantis Lost: The American Experience with De Gaulle, 1958-1969

Sebastian Reyn
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 548
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  • Book Info
    Atlantis Lost
    Book Description:

    Unearthing the vicissitudes of the relationship between General de Gaulle and American administration in the 1958-69 period, the author assesses the American disposition towards the French leader as well as his mark on the US foreign policy of the time. Reyn draws exhaustively on the records of the consecutive liberal and conservative administrations to outline a shift in American perceptions of the transatlantic relationship as an evolving Atlantic 'community' towards an Atlanticism primarily attuned to the national interest.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1211-9
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 11-24)

    How does one take the measure of a statesman the size of Charles de Gaulle? The Frenchman was without doubt one of the giants of his time. He saved his country from eclipse in 1940 and from civil war in 1958 almost by force of personality. His political life was enveloped by a unique sense of national mystique. The quasimystical attitudes and feelings surrounding his mission – to restore France to a position of greatness – were an unalienable part of his larger-than-life political persona and of his political philosophy. To many he was the General, le Grand Charles, the...

  5. Chapter One Organizing the West: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and de Gaulle’s “Tripartite” Memorandum Proposal, 1958-1962
    (pp. 25-82)

    De Gaulle never lost sight of his aim to restore France’s position of eminence in world politics, not even as it teetered on the brink of civil war over Algeria. On September 17, 1958, he threw down an unusual gauntlet, merely three months after having resumed the reins of power and eleven days before a new constitution was approved by the French people. He wrote a secret memorandum to President Dwight Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan proposing a shake-up of the Western alliance. De Gaulle advocated a new “security organization” in which the United States, Great Britain, and...

  6. Chapter Two Whose Kind of “Europe”? Kennedy’s Tug of War With de Gaulle About the Common Market, 1961-1962
    (pp. 83-140)

    In August 1954, efforts to establish a European Defense Community (EDC) foundered in the French National Assembly. This was a severe setback for the cause of European integration, but it was not its downfall. The American supporters of European integration, too, continued to support its advancement in other areas; as Eisenhower wrote to his friend Walter Bedell Smith in September 1954: “We cannot sit down in black despair and admit defeat.”¹

    By January 1961, when Kennedy assumed the American presidency, the European integration movement had reinvented itself around the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which had become operational in...

  7. Chapter Three The Clash: Kennedy and De Gaulle’s Rejection of the Atlantic Partnership, 1962-1963
    (pp. 141-194)

    By the spring of 1962, the political and military-strategic differences between Kennedy and de Gaulle had brought about a significant deterioration in their bilateral relationship – and word of this was increasingly making it to newspapers and editorials. Prominent journalists and columnists such as Joseph Alsop (of the New York Herald Tribune) and Cyrus Sulzberger (of the New York Times) were writing that “in the whole history of the Western alliance there has been nothing like the present remarkably ugly relationship between France and the US.”¹ Walter Lippmann’s considerable esteem for de Gaulle also suffered as the anti-Anglo-Saxon gist of...

  8. Chapter Four The Demise of the Last Atlantic Project: LBJ and De Gaulle’s Attack on the Multilateral Force, 1963-1965
    (pp. 195-248)

    On November 22, 1963, the burdensome tasks of the American presidency were placed on the shoulders of a man who, very much to his own dismay, had remained at the periphery of power for some three years. For Lyndon Johnson, the vice presidency had become a depressing straitjacket from which there seemed no escape – “not worth a bucket of warm spit,” as his fellow Texan John Nance Garner (“Cactus Jack”) once famously said.¹ Within a matter of hours, however, he was thrust into the full dimensions of the presidency under circumstances unimagined. Upon taking the presidential oath, it was...

  9. Chapter Five De Gaulle Throws Down the Gauntlet: LBJ and the Crisis in NATO, 1965-1967
    (pp. 249-306)

    Having imposed restraint toward de Gaulle on his administration in the MLF crisis, Johnson could no longer be seen as the wrecker of the alliance. Yet the most severe transatlantic crisis of the Johnson years still lay ahead – and much would depend on how the Texan would deal with it. On March 7, 1966, de Gaulle informed Johnson that France would end its military participation within NATO. In addition, he requested the removal from France of troops not under French command. This chapter will examine Johnson’s response to this blunt challenge to the postwar architecture of Western defense.¹


  10. Chapter Six Grand Designs Go Bankrupt: From Divergence to Accommodation, 1967-1969
    (pp. 307-354)

    If one had to pick a year in which the Franco-American relationship reached a nadir, it would no doubt be 1967. Following the withdrawal from NATO, de Gaulle capitalized on his newly achieved “independence” by seeking rapprochement with the Warsaw Pact countries. In 1967, France would also proclaim a nuclear strategy that made no distinction between the West and the East, issue high-profile statements on a range of issues across the globe that set France clearly at odds with the “Anglo-Saxons,” and launch an attack on the American dollar as the linchpin of the international monetary system.

    In all of...

  11. Conclusion Atlantis Lost: The Reception of Gaullism in the United States
    (pp. 355-378)

    At the beginning of this study, we set out with three broad questions in mind. How did Americans interpret de Gaulle’s policy of “independence” within the larger framework of their ideas about the transatlantic relationship? How did consecutive administrations actually deal with the challenges posed by de Gaulle’s “independent” foreign policy from 1958 to 1969? And did de Gaulle’s policy of “independence” modify American policies towards Europe and the Atlantic alliance? We will now attempt to answer these three questions on the basis of the foregoing.

    In respect of the first question, we should first of all observe that there...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 379-498)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 499-534)
  14. Abbreviations
    (pp. 535-538)
  15. Index of persons
    (pp. 539-546)
  16. Curriculum vitae
    (pp. 547-548)