Kissinger Claims French Seek To Reassert Identity, Autonomy
The task of reconstructing France's soul and a "specifically French sense of purpose," has led de Gaulle to the controversial position he occupies today, maintains Henry A. Kissinger '50, professor of Government, in the March issue of Harper's.
Conflict with the United States is only a by-product--perhaps not a necessary one--of the French president's essentially pedagogical objective: "to teach his people and perhaps his continent attitudes of independence and self-reliance," Kissinger says in an article entitled "The Illusionist: Why We Misread de Gaulle."
According to Kissinger, de Gaulle believes that, if France is to reclaim her greatness, she must "regain--wherever possible--the right of independent decision."
De Gaulle's concern with restoration of France's national identity reinforces his conception of the independent nation-state and his rejection of supranational institutions, Kissinger believes.
"Before it (France) can decide what it wishes to become, it has to rediscover what it is," Kissinger writes.
The real Franco-American differences, Kissinger suggests, stem more from the "philosophical issue of how nations cooperate" than from issues of technical strategy. As an example, he cites French and American interpretations of the Soviet situation which, in fact, do not radically differ.
Kissinger claims that analysts and politicians from both countries believe that the Soviet system will undergo a transformation which will mark the beginning of fruitful negotiations. They only disagree over who will, at that point, become the spokesman for the West, and over the nature of future international stability.