America’s Allié le plus Ancien

America’s Allié le plus Ancien

This week, President Biden is hosting French President Emmanuel Macron for an official state visit, just the latest chapter of a long-running bilateral relationship between France and the U.S.

France was America’s first ally, famously supporting the nation in its fight against France’s historic rival, Britain, in our War for Independence.

Since the 1778 Treaty of Alliance, the two countries have maintained an alliance lasting nearly 250 years with only a few small interruptions. Founders like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson forged deep bonds with their counterparts in Paris and France donated the Statue of Liberty that now stands in New York Harbor.

But the relationship has not been without its low points.

During the early decades of the Cold War under the leader perhaps most revered by the French, General Charles de Gaulle, France pursued an independent-minded foreign policy that sometimes ran counter to U.S. interests. France withdrew its troops from NATO, developed its own nuclear weapons and resisted giving up its colonial possessions in Asia and Africa.

More recently, relations were strained between the two countries last year when Australia backed out of a $66 billion agreement to buy French submarines when the U.S. offered to sell them nuclear-powered submarines instead as part of the new AUKUS defense pact.

This led President Macron to take the extraordinary step of temporarily recalling the French ambassadors in both Washington and Canberra, a move typically not taken by close allies.

Today, however, the two countries continue to share deep political and economic ties, and are working closely together in supporting Ukraine against the Russian invasion.