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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: September 2009

9 - The Iraq crisis and the future of the Western alliance


In January 1963, Konrad Adenauer, the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, came to Paris to sign a treaty of friendship with France. This was an event of considerable political importance. The German government, it seemed, had decided to form a kind of bloc with the France of President Charles de Gaulle, a country which for some time had been pursuing a policy with a distinct anti-American edge. Indeed, just one week before Adenauer's visit, de Gaulle had risen up against the United States. He had announced that France was going to veto Britain's entry into the European Common Market. If the British were allowed in, de Gaulle argued, continental Europe would eventually be absorbed into a “colossal Atlantic Community, dependent on America and under American control,” and this France would not permit. The German government seemed to share de Gaulle's sentiments. How else could its willingness to sign a treaty with France at that particular point possibly be interpreted?

The Americans were enraged by what France and Germany had done, and the Kennedy administration, then in power, decided to take a very hard line. The Europeans, President Kennedy felt, could not be expected to pursue a pro-American policy simply because of what the United States had done for them in previous years.