Charles de Gaulle
| Charles de Gaulle |
(soldier, politician, deep politician)
|Born||Charles André Joseph Pierre Marie de Gaulle|
|Died||1970-11-09 (Age 79)|
|Alma mater||École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr|
|Children|| • Philippe|
|Party||Rally of the French People, National Centre of Social Republicans, Union for the New Republic|
World War II
As OSS chief in Switzerland, Dulles favored a far right faction of the Resistance that was opposed to de Gaulle. In his war memoirs, de Gaulle accused Dulles of being part of “a scheme” that was determined to “silence or set aside” the French general. Pierre de Bénouville, a right-wing Resistance leader on Dulles’s OSS payroll, was later accused of betraying Jean Moulin, de Gaulle’s dashing representative in the French underground, to the Gestapo. After he was captured, Moulin was subjected to brutal torture before being beaten to death — by the notorious war criminal Klaus Barbie, according to some accounts.
After de Gaulle was elected Prime Minister in 1958, he sought to purge the French government of its CIA-connected elements. Dulles had made heavy inroads into France’s political, cultural, and intelligence circles in the postwar years.
"In May 1958, when de Gaulle returned to power in Paris after a twelve-year absence, Dulles flew to Paris for a face-to-face meeting with the legendary Frenchman to see if their differences could be resolved. Dulles had great confidence in his personal powers of persuasion. But the proud de Gaulle refused to see the spymaster, handing him off to one of his close associates, Michel Debré.
A formal dinner was organized for Dulles and Jim Hunt, the CIA station chief in Paris, which was also attended by Melnik. Dulles seemed unfazed by de Gaulle’s slight. But, as French journalist Frédéric Charpier later commented, “Upon returning to the Ritz Hotel, Dulles drew some lessons from the evening, which confirmed his fears. De Gaulle promised to be a tough and hostile partner who was sure to put an end to the laissez-faire attitude which up until then had characterized the [French government].”
World leaders defied Allen Dulles at their peril — even leaders like Charles de Gaulle, whose nation’s warm, fraternal relations with the United States dated back to the American Revolution. After Dulles flew home to Washington, the CIA’s reports on de Gaulle took a sharper edge. At a National Security Council meeting convened by Eisenhower in September 1958, gloomy prognostications were made about the French leader’s ability to settle the Algerian crisis to America’s satisfaction.
The possibility of overthrowing de Gaulle and replacing him with someone more in tune with US interests was openly discussed, but the idea was discarded at that point as too risky. However, by the time Kennedy took office in January 1961, the CIA was primed for a power switch in Paris."
Reston communicated the rising fury in JFK’s inner circle over the CIA’s rogue behavior, in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the French escapade: “All this has increased the feeling in the White House that the CIA has gone beyond the bounds of an objective intelligence-gathering agency and has become the advocate of men and policies that have embarrassed the Administration.”