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The introduction takes us to Paris in December 1947, where rumors of a communist uprising circulated amidst nationwide strikes fomented by the French Communist Party. President Harry Truman was deeply troubled by the unrest; journalists Joseph and Steward Alsop suggested it was because of the intelligence reports crossing his desk—"he was daily confronted with the facts.” This chapter explains the book’s focus on that intelligence and makes three interlocking arguments: that the intelligence on France was actually deeply contested by U.S. intelligence officers, that a vast web of informants in France and its empire influenced this intelligence to suit their interests, and finally, that the intelligence pointing to an imminent and existential communist threat was overblown, part of a campaign to encourage American intervention in French affairs, with implications for Franco-American relations for the rest of the century. This study seeks to internationalize intelligence and incorporate it into the study of U.S. foreign relations. In doing so, it deploys the diplomatic record alongside previously untapped intelligence reporting, thus illuminating new findings out of American and French archives. Likewise, it borrows key insights from recent interventions in U.S. foreign relations, namely the global, transimperial, and emotional turns in the field.
This chapter demonstrates the entrenchment of the dominant image of France as weak and poised to tip into revolution. Tensions with the State Department and between Secretary of State James Byrnes and President Harry Truman, the influence of Admiral William Leahy over the intelligence process, and Truman’s preference for military and current intelligence over more comprehensive analyses served to buttress alarmist assessments and legitimized a harder line, even as analysts in the nascent Central Intelligence Group began to question some of the more ominous reporting. In France, anti-communist elements encouraged American attention and aid by warning of secret communist plots involving weapons drops, arms caches, and covert preparations for insurrection, and they themselves as the resistance to these communist plots, willing to act once they received American assistance. Surprisingly, they also advocated for direct American intervention in French affairs, not only in shaping the electoral landscape but also in reestablishing military bases inside France. Meanwhile, other national intelligence services, in their exchanges with US intelligence, also sounded the alarm about communist activity in southern France and questioned the legitimacy and efficacy of the French government. These contacts only reinforced the American belief that France was a weak and unreliable ally.
This chapter explores the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Increasingly, Provisional Government head Charles de Gaulle and the French Communist Party, for a time maintaining a veneer of Resistance unity, found themselves in a struggle over the complexion of postwar France. The perception of a communist threat, for many in the French government and their American allies, became pressing as new variables complicated relations and intensified the feeling of crisis. The PCF’s growing strength and popularity in domestic politics, and deteriorating relations with the Soviets, brought the threat to the forefront and shaped French domestic and foreign affairs. Some French factions continued to warn of communist subversion and intrigue through their exchanges with US diplomats and American intelligence. Gaullists sought out contact with U.S. intelligence officers to counter the weakness narrative and prove their anti-communist bona fides. For their part, OSS and (subsequently) State Department intelligence analysts argued that many in France viewed the PCF as a legitimate political party and that there were genuine working class grievances that should be addressed. These contacts—informal and formal—acted as powerful constraints on American policy and explain in sharper relief how the United States was drawn into French affairs.
This chapter shifts the view from the metropole to overseas France. It shows how French officials focused on restoring their empire in the immediate postwar era. The empire was crucial to France’s quest to regain its status as a Great Power; it was also a salve for domestic unrest. The empire provided raw materials and markets crucial to recovery; it also gave a struggling French government a luster of strength. Agitation in North Africa and Indochina threatened to undermine this enterprise. As in the metropole, French officials abroad sought to outmaneuver and delegitimize rivals who threatened their authority through their contacts with U.S. intelligence. They began to tie nationalist agitation in North Africa and Indochina to local communist action and PCF activity inside France. In North Africa, they also traced an apparent evolution in local communist rhetoric from criticism of nationalist activity, to collusion aiming for electoral gains, to support for independence by the end of 1945. And in Indochina, French officials employed the same methods used to discredit de Gaulle’s government in 1944 and 1945. In the months after the war, it also became a crucial component of the basic formula they used to influence American policy.
The conclusion argues that U.S. analysis on France reveals the complex relationship between intelligence and the formulation of American foreign policy in the early Cold War. It contends that a transnational and at times transimperial web of French factions and informants was largely responsible for shaping these views through their frequent informal and formal exchanges with American diplomats and intelligence officials, and they did so with their own political agendas and interests in mind. Through their U.S. contacts, they directly contested images of France, demonstrated legitimacy and outmaneuvered rivals, and played a fundamental role in shaping American perceptions and policy. This chapter also shows that the narrative of French weakness and communist intrigue began to unravel under the scrutiny of analysts who understood its provenance and questioned its basis. In fact, there were a myriad of other explanations for seemingly nefarious communist activity in France, ones for which emotionally driven and depleted observers failed to account.
This chapter details the cracks in the consensus that began to emerge as tension boiled over in France with the expulsion of the PCF from the governing coalition and the communist-directed strikes that paralyzed the nation at the end of the year. Italian, Spanish and French intelligence, US embassy officials in Paris, U.S. military intelligence, and Central Intelligence Group current intelligence reports kept up the drumbeat, warning of growing anti-Americanism, communist power grabs and the PCF’s role in a larger, global communist conspiracy. Their analysis formed the core of the intelligence sent to President Truman and his senior advisors. However darkly uniform the analysis of the preceding year had been, some French officials, experts in the Office of Intelligence and Research (OIR) and a few mid-level analysts in the CIA expressed growing concern about the type and quality of intelligence. OIR analysts who complained that some CIA officials failed to account for French agency raised one of the most serious shortcomings of American analysis. Beyond their entreaties for American aid, French sources also played a role in the development of U.S. interference in France and its pro-colonial turn.
This chapter depicts France on the eve of Liberation as various factions jockeyed for legitimacy and rightful claim to lead France once Paris was free again. It reveals a debate within US government circles about the accuracy of the entrenched image of France at the onset of the Cold War as decadent and teetering toward revolution. In exchanges with the White House, State Department and military intelligence, right-leaning French sources, including familiar military, intelligence, political and industrial figures, bolstered this view. French contacts in the Resistance meanwhile shaped Office of Strategic Services analysis that France was a strong, worthy ally. Thus France became a contested idea with warring factions in both capitals, as well as the far reaches of the French empire, seeking to influence US policy.
Contesting France reveals the untold role of intelligence in shaping American perceptions of and policy toward France between 1944 and 1947, a critical period of the early Cold War when many feared that French communists were poised to seize power. In doing so, it exposes the prevailing narrative of French unreliability, weakness, and communist intrigue apparent in diplomatic dispatches and intelligence reports sent to the White House as both overblown and deeply contested. Likewise, it shows that local political factions, French intelligence and government ofﬁcials, colonial ofﬁcers, and various trans-national actors in imperial outposts and in the metropole sought access to US intelligence ofﬁcials in a deliberate effort to shape US policy for their own political postwar agendas. Using extensive archival research in the United States and France, Susan McCall Perlman sheds new light on the nexus between intelligence and policymaking in the immediate postwar era.
Emotion dysregulation is cross-diagnostic and impairing. Most research has focused on dysregulated expressions of negative affect, often measured as irritability, which is associated with multiple forms of psychopathology and predicts negative outcomes. However, the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) include both negative and positive valence systems. Emerging evidence suggests that dysregulated expressions of positive affect, or excitability, in early childhood predict later psychopathology and impairment above and beyond irritability. Typically, irritability declines from early through middle childhood; however, the developmental trajectory of excitability is unknown. The impact of excitability across childhood on later emotion dysregulation is also yet unknown. In a well-characterized, longitudinal sample of 129 children studied from ages 3 to 5.11 years through 14 to 19 years, enriched for early depression and disruptive symptoms, we assessed the trajectory of irritability and excitability using multilevel modeling and how components of these trajectories impact later emotion dysregulation. While irritability declines across childhood, excitability remains remarkably stable both within and across the group. Overall levels of excitability (excitability intercept) predict later emotion dysregulation as measured by parent and self-report and predict decreased functional magnetic resonance imaging activity in cognitive emotion regulation regions during an emotion regulation task. Irritability was not related to any dysregulation outcome above and beyond excitability.
While substantial research supports the role of parent–child interactions on the emergence of psychiatric symptoms, few studies have explored biological mechanisms for this association. The current study explored behavioral and neural parent–child synchronization during frustration and play as predictors of internalizing and externalizing behaviors across a span of 1.5 years. Parent–child dyads first came to the laboratory when the child was 4–5 years old and completed the Disruptive Behavior Diagnostic Observation Schedule: Biological Synchrony (DB-DOS: BioSync) task while functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) data were recorded. Parents reported on their child's internalizing and externalizing behaviors using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) four times over 1.5 years. Latent growth curve (LGC) modeling was conducted to assess neural and behavioral synchrony as predictors of internalizing and externalizing trajectories. Consistent with previous investigations in this age range, on average, internalizing and externalizing behaviors decreased over the four time points. Parent–child neural synchrony during a period of play predicted rate of change in internalizing but not externalizing behaviors such that higher parent–child neural synchrony was associated with a more rapid decrease in internalizing behaviors. Our results suggest that a parent–child dyad's ability to coordinate neural activation during positive interactions might serve as a protective mechanism in the context of internalizing behaviors.