FRANCE: Such a Difficult Ally

Why Paris is so independent

To Americans—and indeed to many Europeans—the reaction was irritatingly familiar. French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt issued a joint statement strongly condemning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Three days later, Paris abruptly declared that it would not be represented at a German-sponsored meeting of Western European foreign ministers with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in Bonn. Once again, France stood out as seemingly arrogant and as the ally least disposed to back Washington in an international crisis.

The French attitude revived memories...

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