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France, having long proclaimed the need to change the European status quo, regards the potential for change in the structure of European relationships with more anxiety than do most of its allies. However, French security assumptions have not remained static. French policy has been adjusting for some time, but this movement is only partially related to the changes set loose by Soviet President Gorbachev, and can be understood only in the broader context of the security perspectives that have guided French thinking since the end of World War II. This study traces the roots of Charles de Gaulle's policies and describes the nearly 15-year-long transition away from purist Gaullism toward a new compromise between independence and integration. The author describes the adjustments taken in response, including several important steps to improve the interaction between the French military and NATO, and ways that French diplomacy of the early 1980s began to emphasize common NATO positions. The author then examines the emerging policy environment and its effects on the basic assumptions underpinning French policy. He concludes that in the future, France will be easier to work with as an ally, but will continue to seek autonomy in the East-West dialogue.

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