De Gaulle’s Grandson Urges France to Restore Independence, Break With Washington on Ukraine Quagmire
11:39 GMT 31.01.2023 (Updated: 14:43 GMT 31.01.2023)
© AP Photo / Francois MoriThe statue of General Charles de Gaulle is pictured before VE Day ceremonies Friday May 8, 2020 in Paris
© AP Photo / Francois Mori
French President Emmanuel Macron is considering sending tanks to Ukraine, and has not “ruled out” fighter jets as well. At the same time, he has been one of the few European leaders calling for continued dialogue with Moscow. Macron’s critics have expressed fears that the NATO-Russia proxy conflict in Ukraine is pushing Europe to the brink of war.
Pierre de Gaulle, grandson of revered French statesman Charles de Gaulle, has slammed the West’s dangerous decision to deploy heavy weapons in Ukraine, and has called on Paris to persuade the Americans see reason and broach a lasting peace with Moscow.
“The escalation unleashed by the Americans and NATO must come to an end. This recent decision [on tanks] will provoke the supply of even more powerful weapons, weapons with an even greater range. It will, unfortunately, increase the risk of a nuclear conflict. This is the abyss that we are on the brink of,” de Gaulle said, speaking at a round table in Moscow dedicated to French-Russian WWII cooperation and the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory in the Battle of Stalingrad on Tuesday.
“Within France and in Europe, on the whole, the public is against such escalation…Western politicians are trying to show us that they are in control of the situation, but this is a lie. Because they do not understand either history or consequences,” de Gaulle added.
Emphasizing that the French people “no longer trust their politicians, who have discredited themselves,” de Gaulle said “the time has come for France and its president to remember that we are a great, independent nation, and to play the role that we are truly meant to” in world affairs. “It’s necessary to provide Russia with serious guarantees, which have not been given since the Minsk agreements.”
Criticizing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for “selling himself” and the Ukrainian people “to the Americans,” de Gaulle said “the time has come to achieve peace, to bring the Americans to see reason and to come to a lasting and stable peace with Russia.” Unfortunately, he said, President Macron and many other European leaders have also been blinded by subservience American interests – a tendency fraught with disaster, in de Gaulle’s view.
Pointing to the tensions in relations between Moscow and Paris today, De Gaulle recalled the “deep, strong history” of Franco-Russian cooperation, including during the joint struggle against Nazism during World War II.
“Already in 1941, my grandfather, General de Gaulle, expressed the idea of creating the Normandie-Niemen regiment,” the French fighter squadron that fought on the Eastern Front alongside the Red Army from 1943 and 1945. “This was an example of an alliance between our countries. We honor the memory of the brave French pilots who fought against Germany together with Soviet soldiers,” de Gaulle said.
Pierre de Gaulle has been dragged through the mud in his home country over his alternative perspective on French-Russian relations and the crisis in Ukraine. He has brushed off these accusations, telling French media last week that if he was “a relay from Russia, then Macron and [former German chancellor Angela] Merkel are the servants of the Americans. Me, I only defend the interests of the French.”
Pierre de Gaulle isn’t the only Gaullist figure calling on Paris to take a more independent position in world affairs. Late last week, Le Patriots President Florian Philippot urged France to consider leaving NATO to avoid World War III after pointing to recent comments by NATO Military Committee Chairman Admiral Rob Bauer boasting that the Western alliance was “ready” for war with Russia.
De Gaulle’s Foreign Policy
Emerging as the leader of the French resistance during the Second World War, Charles de Gaulle served as the chairman of the provisional government of the French Republic between 1944 and 1946, and as President of France between 1959 and 1969. Throughout his presidency, the centerpiece of French foreign policy was independence for Paris in global affairs. This included the pursuit of an independent French nuclear deterrent, support for cooperation with European countries (but rejection of a supranational European state), and détente with the Soviet Union and China. De Gaulle forced the Americans to remove their nuclear weapons from France, and withdrew French forces from NATO command structures and from SEATO, the Western alliance’s Southeast Asian equivalent.
France under de Gaulle was also an opponent of American dollar hegemony. French Finance Minister Valery Giscard d’Estaing dubbed the benefits Washington got from the convertibility of dollars to gold “America’s exorbitant privilege,” and pulled French gold reserves out of America’s coffers. This move ultimately helped force the Nixon administration to end dollar-gold convertibility in 1971.
De Gaulle’s opposition to US hegemony, NATO, opposition to Israel, support for Quebec liberation, and détente with the Eastern bloc earned him many enemies in Washington, with the CIA allegedly attempting multiple attempts on his life, and watching closely during the May 1968 political crisis which helped culminate in his ouster as president.