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The Post-World War 2 history of Europe is fascinating, not only because of the dramatic change in policies but also the dismantling of the Colonial presence throughout the world. In many cases, the dismantling came with a price – sometimes the independence of a former colony brought about waves of violence from factions seeking power – other times it was a war of ideologies – while still others represented the settling of old scores, which lay dormant for decades. In the 1950s, France was embroiled in three distinct upheavals; Indochina (Vietnam), Algeria and The Suez. Vietnam represented the end of French colonial power in Southeast Asia, as was witnessed by the disastrous war and the defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The Suez crisis was reaction to Gamal Abdul Nassar’s support of Algerian rebels and his nationalizing the Suez Canal – it resulted in France as well as Britain invading the Canal region. The third, and probably costliest was the situation in Algeria, a crisis which eventually brought down the Mollett government after being in power a little over a year.
Mollett was a Socialist, and was responsible for many important domestic decisions as well as negotiating and signing the Treaty of Rome, which laid the groundwork for The Common Market.
This interview, on Meet The Press comes only a few days before the Treaty Of Rome signing and he’s asked by the panel over the implications of the Treaty and where America would fit into the grand scheme of things.
But for all the positive Domestic issues Mollett was responsible for, it was Algeria that became the sticking point, and one which would outlast his tenure as Prime Minister and go into the early 1960s with increased violence, terrorism and military repression until the matter was resolved.
To become acquainted with this important figure in French politics of the 1950s, here is one of his rare U.S. appearances on Meet The Press from March 15, 1957.