73. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1
506. During my conversation with General De Gaulle today2 I asked him for his estimate of the correlation of forces in the world. He told me that he thought from the military point of view the Soviets could destroy the U.S. and the U.S. could destroy the Soviets and that therefore from a purely military standpoint we cancelled each other out. However, he said the U.S. was so much more powerful from the economic and financial point of view as well as in organization of its state that there was no comparison. I pointed out to De Gaulle that the Soviet Union, having a closed system, was in no way affected financially by the power of the U.S., to which De Gaulle replied that this may be so but that the U.S. weighed more heavily on the rest of the world.
I told him that I had been associated with the conduct of American foreign policy for well over twenty years and I could really think of no case where the U.S. had sought to use its power for its own selfish ends. De Gaulle said he did not accuse the U.S. of any belligerent attitude although he thought it was “inevitable” that so much power as that possessed by the U.S. sooner or later—perhaps not now he said—would begin to influence the policy and conduct of any country.
Comment: De Gaulle did not say it but implied that part of France’s current policy was a recognition of the overwhelming power of the U.S. and the necessity of helping to redress the balance. This may be supposition on my part since this view attributed to De Gaulle has already appeared in the French press.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to President, Walt Rostow, Vol. 34. Secret; Nodis.↩
- Telegram 507 from Paris, July 11, reported on the portion of the discussion dealing with Algeria. (Ibid.) Telegram 508 from Paris, July 11, reported on the portion of the discussion dealing with the Middle East. (Ibid.) Telegram 509 dealt with De Gaulle’s views on Arab-Israeli issues. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 23 ARAB-ISR) Telegram 510 dealt with De Gaulle’s visits abroad. (Ibid., POL 7 FR)↩