What the French have always wanted was to be better than England. They tried to complete with England over America, but England won in direct competition, although France did help America get out. So England had Jamaica, so France had Haiti. England had Shanghai, so France had Indochina. The problem was, England was much better at maintaining and controlling its colonies, and both kept them and spread more proactively. Evidence of this is seen as how Shanghai and Jamaica are more or less well off, where as Haiti(even before the earthquake) and Indochina(now Vietnam) are still trying to succeed. So while they were once considered powerful, they weren't quite English powerful. After WW2. No one ele in the world could compete with either the USA or the USSR, although it can be said that Charles De Gaulle tried.