31. Informal Notes of Secretary of State Rusk’s Special Staff Meeting1
Following the questions distributed in advance of the meeting,2 Mr. Tyler made the following points:
De Gaulle is trying to
increase his influence in world affairs. If one recognizes the
assumptions behind this statement, he is only implicitly intent
on reducing our influence.
- De Gaulle’s view of Europe is incompatible with partnership with the U.S. as we understand it, i.e., involving European integration and European dependence on the U.S. His definition of Atlantic partnership is narrower than ours.
- De Gaulle’s view of the world and France’s role in it is based on this estimate of a decline in the relevant power of the superpowers (U.S. and USSR). The Sino-Soviet conflict does favor his objectives, e.g., intra-European political maneuvering because it increases the options open to France in world politics.
- These motivations are reflected as follows:
- —In Europe by emphasis on European interests and an independence of the U.S.
- —In Africa by “national” policies pursuing French advantages in cultural and economic fields.
- —In the Far East in obvious ways such as recognition of the Chinese Communists.
- —In Latin America somewhat similar to FE and by conceding that it is a natural U.S. sphere of interest while believing that France can play a larger role than at present.
- It is difficult to distinguish between De Gaulle and France and, specifically, some of Deferre’s objectives are shared with De Gaulle. There would be no question of reversing De Gaulle’s actions if Deferre came to power.
- It is not feasible to attempt to isolate De Gaulle and would not be in our interest except if he decided to go beyond the limits imposed by basic facts, e.g., in U.S.-European relations.
Looking at the events through which De Gaulle has lived, it is easy to understand his hopes for rebuilding France’s prestige.
In the context of De Gaulle’s thinking, opportunities for France to disagree with the U.S. are “positive pluses.”
We should not get excited and show too much public concern over France’s attempts at independence since this only helps achieve France’s aims.
France’s influence in Africa is on the whole favorable, yet the French position is constantly eroding and has significant gaps (as in Guinea).
If De Gaulle hopes to build up the French position in Latin America he was wrong to begin in Mexico because French influence there is greater than anywhere else in Latin America. He can only go downhill in his subsequent Latin American visits.
As an example of non-alignment France could have a damaging influence on members of the OAS.[Page 53]
The significant fact about the Middle East at present is the normalization of French-Arab relations and how this will affect the relationship that has existed between France and Israel.
The French have not been activists; they could be much more troublesome if they were more active. For the near future the key issues which might reveal French behavior will be Article 19 and the Chinese representation question.
Deputy Executive Secretary