Friday, April 4, 2008

Haski Responds to Vaïsse

Yesterday I recommended Justin Vaïsse's riposte to Pierre Haski. Here is Haski's rejoinder.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ron tiersky said:

I've read the Haski/Vaisse debate in Rue89 as well as many of the comments.

It seems to me that continuing to debate what is Gaullist or Gaullian etc. creates more difficulties that it resolves.

Underneath all the categorization of policies and taking of positions is a matter of definition. The term is frankly ambiguous (Stanley Hoffmann wrote long ago in Decline or Renewal? that (if memory is exact)'Gaullism was always more an attitude than a policy'. The issue in the debate seems to be intense speculation about what de Gaulle would have done today. It's not clear.

For example, if de Gaulle pulled France out of NATO's military command, does that mean he never would have put France back inside? Circumstances change. It might, in certain circumstances, be in France's interest to get back in. Certainly not if it would mean getting back into an organization that amounted to an institutionalizing of American domination of European foreign policy. But with the Soviet Union gone and the challenge of dealing with smaller or larger networks of global terrorists the main security challenge (never have so few been capable of doing so much damage to so many--including the possibility of catastrophic nuclear attacks), de Gaulle might have thought it advantageous to get back fully inside NATO precisely to influence it. After all, the U.S. is in great difficulty and (I think Sarkozy is correct--see my Current History article that this blog generously mentioned), French and European interests can be better pursued with the U.S. than against it, or just standing aloof.

De Gaulle also said (again, if memory is correct) that in fifty years there might be a political basis for a federal Europe. It seems to be now fifty years hence.

In short, what would de Gaulle do today? Who can say for sure? Can there now be, as Sarkozy is suggesting, a more weighty European presence inside even the NATO military command? The answer must be, of course. But it depends on the Europeans themselves as much as on the Americans. Perhaps there's still a question here of European self-confidence, or lack of it.

A last point: It seems odd, inadequate, that this sort of debate about security and defense (as in Rue89) hardly mentions the threat of global terrorism. Yes, Iraq and Afghanistan are crucial. But they are far from constituting the whole security and defense problem of the European, or the Atlantic, or the Western or the Anglo-American or (fill in the blank) worlds.