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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 10. 1965.

France and the Vietnam war

France and the Vietnam war

At The Teach-In

France gains nothing by cavorting on the international stage without seriously considering French interest, said Mr. J. Roberts, in his talk about French foreign policy.

Before she could take an independent line in international politics France must first solve the problems of her relations with her great allies and with European countries, he said. France must realise that without the American nuclear umbrella her very existence would be jeopardised. Thus France cannot become completely independent of United States policies while she is so dependent on American protection.

Nor can she express herself influentially in international affairs while she remains a second-rate power; only in association with the United States or with a strong alliance could France's voice be backed with the authority of power.

Mr. Roberts outlined France's policy on Vietnam, Her basic position is a call for the reconvening of the 1954 Geneva Conference on Vietnam. This call has been lodged with the co-chairmen of the Conference, Britain and the USSR.

De Gaulle's policy is based upon the belief that the Third World can redress the uneasy situation which exists between the two big power blocs. Therefore, de Gaulle is concerned with ensuring the neutrality of Vietnam, for it is a state free from alliances with either of the two big power blocs that the Vietnam of the future can play its most useful part in the world scene.

However. Mr. Roberts pointed out that France has not been consistent in its attitude to the Third World. In the event of a conflict of interest between France and any member of the underdeveloped sector of nations, the intensely patriotic de Gaulle has, and always would, place France's interests first.

Thus, even though advocating neutrality, de Gaulle's voice was not regarded as sincere by the Third World nations. Despite strenuous efforts to revive French influence in international affairs, in the last analysis de Gaulle's voice was weak, said Mr. Roberts.