• U.S.

National Affairs: Fraternit

2 minute read

At 48, Maurice Couve de Murville is the youngest French ambassador to come to the U.S. since the late famed Jules Jusserand arrived in 1902. He is also a brilliant diplomat and a candid analyst of his country’s political ailments. Last week, in a Manhattan speech, Ambassador Couve de Murville expressed some bluntly realistic thoughts.

“Certainly we Frenchmen know our own weaknesses better, you may be sure, than any outsider. We cannot conceal from ourselves the consequences of our political instability, the insufficient development of our economy, or our weakness in military power. You can depend on our selfcriticism. I leave it to you to decide whether we are the only nation suffering from weaknesses.”

Despite the political chaos of France the ambassador saw points of strength: “The American press, which is very fond of statistics, has told me that we have had 21 governments since the end of World War II. But during that period, like the United States, we have had only one foreign policy.”

The ambassador was fully aware of Russia’s policy of dividing the West. Although that policy failed to halt German rearmament, he said, “Let us not for a moment doubt that [the U.S.S.R.] will continue her efforts through other means. Let us not be disturbed by it. Let none of us suffer an inferiority complex because of it. Errors of judgment, mistakes in strategy and tactics are not prerogatives only of the Western powers. If the latter remain resolute and united, they can look forward to the future with confidence . . . To put it bluntly, our very survival is at stake, and the nations of Western Europe know it.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com