Relations and the French
The difficulty in U.S.-French relations stems from the period of World War II, when France became permanently diminished as a great power in the eyes of the Roosevelt Administration. In addition, there emerged during the war an American distrust of French political motives based on the perception that the French could not keep secrets. This distrust carried over into the Cold War, at the beginning of which the French Communist Party had the allegiance of a quarter of the French electorate. Thus both out of power considerations and security concerns, the U.S. in the postwar did not treat France as an equal, and particularly not on a par with Great Britain. It sought to block the development of a French nuclear deterrent through the amended MacMahon Act of 1958 and in the attempt to create a Multilateral Force (1960-65).
With de Gaulle’s departure from NATO’s integrated command (1966) and with the emergence of France’s nuclear force de frappe, American-French tensions over nuclear issues diminished. De Gaulle’s support of the U.S. in the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) reinforced the axiom that, despite the difficulties in the relationship, France is always with the U.S. in a major crisis – only to be refuted much later in the Iraq war crisis of 2003.
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