President Richard Nixon and his chief foreign policy adviser, Henry Kissinger, sought to build a close relationship with the new French President Georges Pompidou, who had replaced the testy Charles de Gaulle in mid-1969. Initially, Pompidou and his ministers warmly welcomed the new U.S. policy. But by the end of the Nixon-Pompidou period in 1974, U.S.-French relations were in a tailspin. This article explores what went wrong, showing that numerous issues helped to produce a rift in bilateral ties: the new international monetary framework after the demise of the Bretton Woods system, the U.S.-French nuclear weapons relationship in the early 1970s, the “Year of Europe” affair, and U.S.-European tensions after the outbreak of war in the Middle East in October 1973. This period may have been a lost opportunity for lasting improvements in Franco-American relations.

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