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Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 62–82 | Cite as

‘At the crossroads of world attitudes and reaction’: the Paris American Committee to Stopwar and American anti-war activism in France, 1966–1968

  • Bethany S. Keenan
Article

Abstract

This paper examines the anti-Vietnam War activism of a group of American expatriates in France, the Paris American Committee to Stopwar (PACS), from its formation in 1966 to its dissolution in 1968. Using oral history and archival research, the article uses PACS’ history to further recent studies focusing on the Vietnam War as a global event. Through an evaluation of how PACS dealt with Communism, networking, military deserters and the French government, the article demonstrates how being in France benefited and limited anti-war activism while also highlighting changes in French governmental attitudes post-May 1968. In so doing, the article showcases the significance of location in determining how anti-war protest plays out.

Keywords

Vietnam War Franco-American relations cold war anti-war activism expatriates 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Sharon Voros, interview by author, digital recording, phone, 7 September 2010.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    ‘Plusieurs milliers de manifestants ont participé à Paris aux démonstrations organisées contre la politique américaine au Vietnam’, Le Monde, 9–10 April 1967; “46 agents blessés, 156 interpellations,” France-Soir April 9–10, 1967; ‘Plusieurs manifestations anti-américaines ont ponctué le programme de la visite’, Le Figaro, April 8–9, 1967; Richard E. Mooney, ‘US Scores Paris Strife During Humphrey Visit. Witnesses Say Police Stood By as Youths Hit Marines. Rector Calls Flag-Burners “Beatniks and Communists”’, New York Times, April 11, 1967.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The flag incident can be seen in the anti-war film Loin du Vietnam. ‘Max Jordan’ is a pseudonym being used by request. Joris Ivens et al., Loin du Vietnam (France: Société pour le lancement des oeuvres nouvelles, 1968).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    H. Bruce Franklin, Back Where You Came From: A Life in the Death of Empire (New York: Harper’s Magazine Press, 1975), 183.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Diana Johnstone to author (email), August 16, 2010.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Voros, interview.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Maria Jolas to Mr. Katz, June 7, 1967, Paris American Committee to Stopwar Records, Box 1/Letters, Wisconsin Historical Society (microfilm, personal copy) (hereafter PACS WHS).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Le Monde listed the following French groups as organizers: ‘the Paris sections of the CGT (labor union), the Mouvement du jeunesse communiste, the PSU, the UNEF, the Comité Vietnam national, the Mouvement du milliard pour le Vietnam, [and] le Mouvement communiste français (pro-chinois)’. ‘Plusieurs milliers de manifestants’, Le Monde, April 9–10, 1967. I cover its impact on the French protest scene in my dissertation, ‘“Vietnam Is Fighting For Us:” French Identities and the U.S.-Vietnam War, 1965–1973’ (PhD diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The group appears briefly in my own dissertation, and figures into Pierre Journoud’s excellent study of Franco-American diplomatic relations during the US-Vietnam War. Joshua Cochran at the University of Iowa has also looked at the group and graciously provided me with a copy of his seminar paper on them. Keenan, ‘Vietnam is Fighting for Us’; Pierre Journoud, ‘Les relations franco-américaines à l’épreuve du Vietnam entre 1954 et 1975. De la défiance dans la guerre à la coopération pour la paix [French-American Relations Faced with Vietnam between 1954 to 1975: From Defiance in War to Cooperation for Peace]’ (PhD diss., Paris I-Sorbonne, 2008); Joshua D. Cochran, Ambassadors for the Movement: The Vietnam War and the American Antiwar Politics in Europe, 1965–1973’, seminar paper, April 2009. Journoud’s dissertation was recently published as a book, which gives excellent information on de Gaulle’s diplomacy around Vietnam but cuts back on the domestic focus, with less mentions of PACS. Pierre Journoud, De Gaulle et le Vietnam (1945–1969) [De Gaulle and Vietnam (1945–1969)] (Paris: Tallandier, 2011).Google Scholar
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    Maria Jolas to Mr. Katz, September 7, 1967, PACS WHS Box 1/Letters; Ira Morris to fellow members of PACS, October 14, 1967, PACS WHS Box 1/PACS Dissolution Papers.Google Scholar
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    Examples of work along this line include the edited volume by Andreas W. Daum, Lloyd C. Gardner, and Wilfried Mausbach, America, the Vietnam War, and the World: Comparative and International Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) and a similar European collection edited by Christopher Goscha andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 11a.
    Maurice Vaisse, La Guerre du Vietnam et l’Europe, 1963–1975 [The Vietnam War and Europe, 1963–1975] (Paris: Bruylant, 2003). Martin Klimke’s study of student protests in West Germany and the US also looks at Vietnam globally: Klimke, The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011). Work concentrating on the specific experiences of France includes my work and Pierre Journoud’s, as well as Nicolas Pas’ dissertation and article drawn from it: au11b_Nicolas Pas, ‘Six heures pour le Vietnam: Histoire des Comités Vietnam français 1965–1968’. Revue Historique 302.1 (2000); ‘Sortir de l’ombre du Parti Communiste Français: Histoire de l’engagement de l’extrême-gauche française sur la guerre du Vietnam 1965–1968’ (PhD diss., Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Paris, 1998). The war’s globalisation also figures in recent work on 1968, such as the American Historical Review’s three-part forum in 2009 on ‘The International 1968’ and Jeremi Suri’s work.Google Scholar
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    Jeremi Suri, Power and Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Detente (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003).Google Scholar
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    Daum, Gardner, and Mausbach, America, the Vietnam War, and the World, 24, 3.Google Scholar
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    See Journoud’s work as well as Mariana Sullivan’s older but still useful work, France’s Vietnam Policy: A Study in French-American Relations (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978).Google Scholar
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    PACS to Mr. Yanowitz, April 25, 1966, PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational Files.Google Scholar
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    Shakespeare and Co. (the George Whitman incarnation, not the original) first served as the ‘permanence’, but did not fit; Ira Morris felt ‘it has a “beat” atmosphere which is not suitable for as serious an organization as PACS’. It continued as an ‘information centre’ with reading material, and its ‘“beat” atmosphere’ worked well for younger PACS members such as graduate student Dick Howard, who created a ‘Free University’ and taught classes on Marx there. Ira Morris to Maria Jolas, December 10, 1966, PACS WHS Box 1/Letters; ‘PACS Round-Up’, PACS News July, 1967; Dick Howard, interview with author, August 26, 2010.Google Scholar
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    Jolas’ early life is covered admirably in her autobiography, Maria Jolas, Woman of Action: A Memoir and Other Writings (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2004).Google Scholar
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    Voros interview.Google Scholar
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    Henry Pillsbury, interview with author, August 3, 2010, digital recording, phone.Google Scholar
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    Journoud ‘Les Relations Franco-Américaines’, 1149. Sabine Rousseau’s excellent book covers how French Christian groups reacted to both phases of the Vietnam War: Rousseau, La colombe et le napalm, des chrétiens français contre les guerres d’Indochine et du Vietnam 1945–1975 (Paris: CNRS Editions, 2002).Google Scholar
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    PACS Mission Statement, July 14, 1966, PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational Files.Google Scholar
  23. 21.
    Memorandum on ‘Meeting PACS - 25 February 1966’, PACS WHS Box 1/Organiza-tional Files.Google Scholar
  24. 22.
    ‘Opposes War: Branch of SANE formed in Paris’, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 25, 1966. Maria Jolas suggested this venue at an early meeting. ‘Minutes 12 March 1966’, PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational File.Google Scholar
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    Harvey Goldberg to the Editor (unpublished), May 17, 1967, PACS WHS Box 1/PACS Documents.Google Scholar
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    PACS WHS Box 1/Meetings, 1966–1968.Google Scholar
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    PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational Files.Google Scholar
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    PACS WHS Box 1/Meetings, 1966–1968.Google Scholar
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    PACS WHS Box 1/Meetings, 1966–1968 and advertisement, International Herald Tribune, July 25, 1968. This meeting was only planned, as the French government moved to ban it as a possible risk to the ongoing Paris Peace Talks, a move discussed at length later in this article.Google Scholar
  32. 30.
    Sandra Adickes to Elaine W. Rogers, July 20, 1966, Paris (PACS WHS Box 1/Letters, 1966–1967).Google Scholar
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    PACS WHS Box 1/Meetings, 1966–1968.Google Scholar
  34. 32.
    Maria Jola to ‘le ministère plénipotentiare, délégué du gouvernement de la RDV en France, et Madame Mai Van Bô’, August 22, 1967, Paris (PACS WHS Box 1/Letters, 1966–1967).Google Scholar
  35. 33.
    Meeting notices, WHS PACS Box 1/ Meetings, 1966–1968.Google Scholar
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    Pillsbury, interview with author.Google Scholar
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    Johnstone, email to author, August 22, 2010.Google Scholar
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    PACS brochure, 1968, PACS WHS Box 1/Meetings, 1966–1968.Google Scholar
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  40. 38.
    PACS WHS Box 1/Meetings, 1966–1968.Google Scholar
  41. 39.
    The STOP-IT members who travelled to Paris did so without permission of the London group as a whole, leading to a split in the group’s Executive committee. The post-split leader informed PACS the international group would not go forward, as Peggy Duff wrote, ‘partly because of the row, partly because many of the projects are very ambitious and he seems to be rather more realistic’. No title, Le Monde, January 10, 1968; Peggy Duff to Maria Jolas, January 23, 1968, London, PACS WSH Box 1/STOP-IT/PACS.Google Scholar
  42. 40.
    As early as April 1966, PACS noted that Bourdet had spoken at a group meeting and offered his organization’s support: PACS to Mr. Yanowitz, April 25, 1966, Paris (PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational Files, 1966). Bourdet would maintain close contact with the group until its end.Google Scholar
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    PACS WHS Box 8/Membership; Jean-Paul Sartre, A Message from Jean-Paul Sartre to American Peace Workers’, PACS News Summer 1966.Google Scholar
  44. 42.
    Collectif Intersyndical Universitaire to PACS, January 20, 1967, Paris, PACS WHS Box 1/Letters.Google Scholar
  45. 43.
    Maria Jolas to Association des Etudiants, Aix-en-Provence, January 10, 1967, Paris, PACS WHS Box 1/Letters.Google Scholar
  46. 44.
    Ira Morris to Maria Jolas, December 10, 1966, New York (PACS WHS Box 1/Letters, 1966–1967).Google Scholar
  47. 45.
    PACS WHS Box 1/PACS Digest, 1967–1968.Google Scholar
  48. 46.
    No title, PACS News March 1967. An example of their reach: Pete Seeger’s manager sent a telegram to let PACS know Seeger would be playing in Paris. Jolas attempted to get a special Seeger concert for PACS, but Seeger had no free time. Harold Leventhal to Paris American Committee to Stopwar, December 10, 1966; Maria Jolas to Harold Leventhal, December 22, 1966, Paris; Harold Leventhal to Maria Jolas, December 22, 1966. PACS WHS Box 1/Letters.Google Scholar
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    Ira Morris to Maria Jolas, November 14, 1966, New York, PACS WHS Box 1/Letters.Google Scholar
  50. 48.
    My thanks to [redacted] for this phrasing.Google Scholar
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    ‘Short historique (account)’ PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational Files, 1966; [Maria Jolas (unsigned)] to ‘Ira’ [Ira Morris], June 14, 1966, Paris (PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational Files, 1966); ‘Minutes Feb 16, 66’ PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational Files, 1966.Google Scholar
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    [Maria Jolas (unsigned)] to ‘Ira’ [Ira Morris], June 14, 1966.Google Scholar
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    ‘By-Laws (ca March 1966)’ PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational Files 1966. PACS did specify that work with SANE’s aims would have to be tempered by an awareness that PACS was ‘operating within the confines of France and under French Law’.Google Scholar
  54. 52.
    Advertisement, International Herald Tribune, May 9-11-13, 1966.Google Scholar
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    [Maria Jolas (un signed)] to ‘Ira’ [Ira Morris], June 14, 1966, Paris.Google Scholar
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    PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational Files, 1966.Google Scholar
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    Maria Jolas to Donald F. Keys, October 19, 1966, Paris (PACS WHS Box 1/Letters, 1966–1967).Google Scholar
  58. 56.
    The original by-law is not including in the archive, but after SANE leader Donald Keys talked with Ira Morris, he offered up this revised version: ‘SANE, therefore, welcomes as members all persons who affirm allegiance to mankind as primary, who work for human survival and for realization of a world community of nations with freedom and justice under law, and who are free to apply the same standards of criticism to the actions of all nations’. PACS felt this amounted to the same sentiment, phrased nicer. PACS WHS Box 1/Letters.Google Scholar
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    Maria Jolas to Ira Morris, June 14, 1966, Paris, PACS WHS Box 1/Letters.Google Scholar
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    Frances Leary to Maria Jolas, March 27, 1966, Paris, PACS WHS Box 1/Organizational.Google Scholar
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    Maria Jolas to Frances Leary, June 9, 1966, Paris, PACS WHS Box 1/Letters.Google Scholar
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    Dolores Pala to MJ, June 1, 1966, Castleton, PACS WHS Box 1/Letters.Google Scholar
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    Maria Jolas to Ira Morris, June 14, 1966.Google Scholar
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    The final vote of the executive committee, according to Jolas, was ‘two abstentions, 2 favourable and 6 unfavourable votes’. There are no indications of what members other than Jolas voted. Francis Leary to Maria Jolas, March 27, 1966; Maria Jolas to Ira Morris, June 14, 1966.Google Scholar
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    Frances Leary to Maria Jolas, May 28, 1966, Paris (PACS WHS Box 1/Letters).Google Scholar
  67. 65.
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    Weil, Gotshal, and Manges to Francis Leary, March 14, 1966, Paris (PACS WHS Box 1/ Letters, 1966–1967). The actual law, dating 1 September 1939, did not explicitly mention political activity but said that all groups must register and, once registered, groups were ‘subject to the observation of certain conditions’ and ‘could be dissolved at any moment, by decree’. Décret du 1 septembre 1939 modifiant le décret-loi du 12 avril 1939 sur les associations étrangères, Journal Officiel de la République Française, September 5, 1939, 11103. My thanks to Nicole Atwill for providing me with a copy of the law.Google Scholar
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    Maria Jolas to Mr. Katz, 7 June 1967, Paris (PACS WHS Box 1/Letters, 1966-1967).Google Scholar
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    Maria Jolas, ‘Qu’est-ce que PACS?’, Combat Paix, 1967 [no date on clipping], PACS WHS Box 1/PACS Documents.Google Scholar
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    For more information on the type and extent of French anti-Vietnam-war protests, see my dissertation.Google Scholar
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    Flyer, ‘RESISTANCE IN FRANCE’, PACS WHS Box 2/Resistance/Deserters.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bethany S. Keenan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryCoe CollegeCedar RapidsUSA

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