By G.E. MAGUIRE
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Extra info for Anglo-American Policy Towards the Free French
Furthermore Muselier, who as we have already seen was deeply hostile to de Gaulle, did his best to convince the State Department of his sincerity and of de Gaulle's dictatorial ambitions. He was sowing on fertile ground. However, strangely enough, what seemed to irritate Hull even more than the actual invasion was Churchill's speech in defence of de Gaulle in Ottawa a few Free France and the United States 29 days after the invasion. In a conversation with the British minister in Washington, Sir Ronald Campbell, Hull showed that his anger was greater against the British than against the French, and he criticised the British Government for 'fomenting against the United States for British benefit the bitter agitation against this country over the islands'.
To begin with, there was the strategic significance of the Levant which was of immense importance to the British who otherwise had few interests there. The British and Free French had moved into this area initially because the Germans were using it as a base to attack the British. As long as the Suez Canal remained threatened the British would consider these territories to be extremely important, and even afterwards they would remain vital because many Allied supplies for the Pacific War passed through the Suez Canal.
This argument also worked to his advantage because Sautot was much more friendly to the Americans and ready to accommodate them. Furthermore, Sautot showed a tendency to reach agreements with the Americans without consulting d'Argenlieu, which, of course, only served to increase the latter's irritation. 30 It is unclear whether the Americans presented this suggestion to de Gaulle or not. De Gaulle, of course, firmly supported d'Argenlieu and his method of governing the island and of treating the Americans.