FRANCE: How Big An Army?

The question of the week was: should France have a big, expensive army or a small, inexpensive one? Puffy-cheeked War Minister André Diethelm thought the army should be a whopper, chiefly as a matter of prestige. Lean, hardheaded Finance Minister René Pleven insisted that a small, tight, mechanized force was all that was necessary: in tomorrow's atomic war a massive array of manpower would be silly. Last week the Cabinet met in Paris, listened for five hours to the williwaw of conflicting opinions. The man who does France's bookkeeping finally won.

One factor was political; general elections were near and...

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