Stanley Hoffmann, professor of Government, said this week that French President Charles de Gaulle "is like the dog in one of La Fontaine's fables--he would rather be lean and unfettered than fat at the end of a leash."
Hoffmann was referring to recent statements by Premier Georges Pompidou and Foreign Minister Jacques Couve de Murville, which threatened the virtual withdrawal of French forces from NATO if the controversial multilateral force (MLF) is created. MLF is strongly supported by the U.S. and West Germany, ment, said this week that French Presi.
Pompidou also charged that German participation in MLF would constitute a violation of the Franco-German Treaty of Cooperation signed by President de Gaulle and then-Chancellor Adenauer in 1963.
De Gaulle's long-range policies, Hoffmann said in an interview, aim at a Europe equally independent of U.S. and Russian domination. Participation in an MLF dominated by the U.S. would necessarily weaken such a possibility, the French President feels.
But Hoffmann cautioned against overstating the French position on MLF. "DeGaulle has spoken against only the American version of this plan, which offers the Europeans a share of strategy and command decisions only at some vague time in the future."
Recent British proposals for MLF would give the European nations as well as the U.S. a veto over strategy. The decision on these, which "brings the issue of control out into the open for the first time," must first be taken by the U.S., not France, Hoffmann said.
Hoffmann also defended France's role in the current dispute with Germany over fixed grain prices. He speculated that Germany might be seeking financial concessions in return for agreement on present prices.
"It's all a game of blackmail," Hoffmann said. "Among friends, of course."