Master's Theses


Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


In the late nineteen-fifties and early nineteen-sixties, France, under the leadership of President Charles de Gaulle, aligned its foreign and domestic policies to allow itself to become an independent world power. Many of these policies, although potentially beneficial to the French objectives had direct, specific effects upon other countries. Although it is most difficult to analyze and dissect each and every decision or the French government, there were some decisions which were particularly relevant in regard to the total international situation. In this category would be the French decision in the mid-sixties to establish a course or military self-determination and to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military alliance. Initial reaction to this decision would affect policy decisions concerning the military capability of the NATO alliance with the geographical, tactical, and personnel void created by such a French decision. Further investigation is necessary; however, to comprehend how such a unilateral decision could affect regional and international politics. Such was the case with the French decision to withdraw from NATO. World events, most specifically the Berlin Crisis and the Cuban missile crisis, had made the world governments acutely aware of the possibilities of nuclear confrontation. With the imminent nuclear capability of France, Communist China, India, and other nations of the world it was becoming apparent to the major nations of the world that some type of agreement was necessary to halt the possible, if not probable, proliferation of nuclear weapons. Speculation and discussion regarding an agreement to ban the spread of nuclear information had been a real possibility from the time of the initial Moscow treaty banning nuclear testing. As world events made such an agreement seem more inevitable, the French took their action regarding military affiliation with the NATO alliance. This action raised several situations which could develop into specific problems. Who would take France's place on the European continent; would nuclear weapons be necessary to fill the void left by France? Would the Soviet Union use this action to test the military and political strength of the NATO alliance? To this point there is no known work which deals with the effects of the French withdrawal from the NATO alliance and any subsequent effect that had upon the successful negotiation of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty. In this regard, we shall see how the French action led to deviations in the normal U.S. NATO policies and subsequently how the French action threatened the Non-proliferation Treaty negotiations.


Dr. Patrick F. Drinan

Date of Award

Summer 1974

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1974 Wayne Stagaard


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