Stanley H. Hoffmann, professor of Government, came to the defense of French President de Gaulle in an address last night sponsored by the Kirkland House Forum.
Speaking on "The Crisis in Franco-American Relations," Hoffmann said he shares some of de Gaulle's misgivings about the dependability of a supra-national nuclear force, under the direction of the United States. "In the light of the somewhat inconsistent moves of the American ally in the past, I find de Gaulle's fears of a suicide a la Yalta to be justifiable," Hoffmann said.
Hoffmann said he does not agree with the opinion of many U.S. government officials that de Gaulle's attempt to build an independent nuclear striking force for France is the unrealistic action of a "disruptive delinquent."
"I'm sure that he sees that in the long run France can't afford an independent nuclear system," Hoffman said. "He visualizes the French atomic force as the embryo of a force for all of Europe, a Europe that has shaken off its complete dependence on the United States and for which France is the spokesman."
"De Gaulle does not want the U.S. to get completely out of Europe," Hoffmann said. "But he wants to strengthen Europe into a power that will have a voice of its own in East-West discussions vital to the security and welfare of Europeans."
However, Hoffmann added, the United States has been unwilling to seriously consider any plans other than its own for European defense, and the demands that the United States has imposed seem unrealistic to many Europeans.
"If the Frenchman is given his choice of his own nuclear force or a nuclear force subject to U.S. veto, as was the Skybolt program, which must he choose?" Hoffmann asked.
"The Administration's main hope for a re-establishment of communication with France seems to be the hope that Charles de Gaulle is not immortal. But we must start talking again, instead of remaining in the present position of quasi-cold war," he concluded.