is said to be studying the relationship of Louis XIV and Peter the Great; and I don't know how far he can see that as history.
"Then he has always disliked the Anglo-Saxons; now it has become an obsession with him. God knows what he might do in Moscow. Much depends on what the Russians will tell him."
De Gaulle's critics, vociferous and ubiquitous though they may be. are in a minority.
Excepting diverse right-wing elements, some communists and those who distrust him on a personal basis, Frenchmen do not disapprove of his "opening to the East".
Gaullists argue that the journey is an expression of a truly independent foreign policy and its purpose is "an exploration of Russian intentions". They claim that De Gaulle's aim is merely "to probe the possibilities beyond coexistence" and "to size up the advantages of co-operation with Eastern Europe".
Veteran diplomatic observer Francois Honti sees France's withdrawal from NATO "within the Gaullist design", yet connected with the trip to the Soviet Union. It was. he asserts. "a major concession" to Moscow and "the proof of good intentions". "Will this gesture of considerable importance be followed by a counter-offer on the Russians part'?" he asks.
Along with most observers, Roger Massip of the centrist daily Le Figaro contends that European security is going to rank as the major item on the General's agenda. In his opinion. De Gaulle will attempt to persuade his hosts that if they loosen the ties binding the Warsaw Pact. similar developments in NATO may he precipitated.
'Time is ripe'
De Gaulle is likely to submit plans for a new system of European security, independent of ideological blocs and of American influence. Europe for the Europeans — this is expected to he the theme the General will introduce in the Kremlin.
Those who claim to be familiar with De Gaulle's thinking say that he has decided that time is ripe to draw Russia closer to Western Europe.
His argument is that Russia is far more preoccupied today with communist China than with any other problem and it is genuinely desirous of peace along its western border.
De Gaulle feels that the new Russian leadership is furthermore increasingly inclined to succumb to the political and economic temptations that Western Europe represents. Along with numerous specialists of the Soviet scene, the General considers the revolution over and done with, and foresees emb4iurgeoisement for Soviet society.
Apart from the idea of "Europe to the Urals" which he is expected to expound and which is likely to find a favourable reception with the Russian people, De Gaulle counts on his personal magnetism.
He hopes that the glamour of his historical personality will make a powerful impact not only on the leaders but on the masses as well. He is scheduled to deliver no less than 19 speeches in ten days and he is reported to have learned some R ussian.
The General believes in nations and in the force of their traditions. He never refers, for instance. to the Soviet Union. rather to Russia or to the Slays. For him, the Bolshevik Revolution is but an incident in Russia's history.
He believes in the logic of history's recurrences: whenever the Russian leadership succeeded in bringing about internal stabilisation, it always turned to the West and sought, above all. to be accepted in European culture and politics. Dc Gaulle is convinced that the communist rulers inherited this ambition from their predecessors. the czars.
Today. De Gaulle sees himself in the strategic role of a person who is most qualified—as the leader of France, which for him is "the heart and the essence of Europe" to accept formally Russia's application for membership in the European community.
Charles T. Fenyvesi