France and NATO: A Case of Misunderstanding

Date of Award

Spring 5-1992

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science & Geography


Graduate Program in International studies

Committee Director

Pia Wood

Committee Member

Philip S. Gillette

Committee Member

Willard C. Frank, Jr.

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.I45B87


In 1966, General Charles de Gaulle partially withdrew France from the integrated military structure of the North Atlantic Treaty organization (NATO). This action represented a climax in the ongoing evolution in French foreign policy. Both sides of the Atlantic failed to understand de Gaulle's actions because of the ambivalent relation between the concept of grandeur in world politics and France's loyalty to the Alliance. Consequently, the partial withdrawal was perceived as a drastic shift in policies exemplifying French "anti-Americanism" and lack of commitment to the Alliance and NATO.

In contrast, this thesis presents this decision as simply a political statement, a final and logical step in France's well-publicized foreign policy philosophy. It traces the evolution of France's relationship with NATO from 1949 to 1966, focusing on the reasons for France's adherence to the Washington Treaty of 1949, the importance of de Gaulle's philosophy regarding France's status in world politics, and various disagreements with her allies.


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