I enjoy reading Stephan very much even when I disagree with him.I wish I was a fluid and stylish in my writing as he is. Stephan raises some provocative issues as to why France acts so shitty towards America and I want to answer some of them. It's impotrtant to provide some background because the Anglophone bloggers glide too much some aspects of French history and the readers are left with faulty information that the French are either Jerry Lewis goof balls or Richelieu clones singlemindedly advancing French interest to the detriment of moral consierations. They're neither extreme; it's just their overweening arrogance and strutting as if they were still a great power gets in the way of their common sense- at least at the political and intellectual spheres.
Stephan brings up the 1940 defeat as the starting point of France's rot. Except that not one of the Anglophone bloggers discusses the background; it's like the defeat in 1940 was something that occurred as naturally as tides. There are lots of factors from the French reticence to fight yet another war in less than 25 years when the memory of the First was still traumatic; to the imprudence of the Maginot line when mobile warfare had revolutionized war. Yet one of the most overlooked is the role that the French communists played in subverting the war effort. The PCF was Europe's biggest and most influential; it was also one of the most servile vis-à-vis Stalin.
Most of the Anglophone bloggers forget that the Nazi-Soviet pact was still in effect and the Western European communist parties were to defend it even to the point of committing treason. The French communist party was no exception and played a determining role in the French defeat. After the defeat the communist did nothing until the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union; the volte- face was so predictable. Then the French communists ran to the maquis and tried to pass as having been in the forefront of the resistance.
Another factor- one that in retrospect is quite embarrassing to the Americans was FDR's willingness to deal with Vichy France. Worse, was that FDR preferred Darlan rather than de Gaulle. The former played a double game with FDR until Darlan was assassinated. Even then, the relationship blew hot and cold until '43 when Roosevelt developed an unjustified personal animus towards de Gaulle.
Stephan is quite mistaken to assert that the French used the Marshall plan money to fight its war in Vietnam. On the contrary, the Truman administration threatened France with a total military embargo if any American military equipment was used in Indochina. For 4 years, until the Korean invasion, the French never had enough materiel to win. As I've repeated in various article on the subject on French military, the French lost Indochina abjectly but America contributed in a small way to that defeat. The consequences are well known and don't need to be reiterated
Further, the Americans deluded themselves that if they forced Britain and France to give up their empires, the emerging third world populations would be pro-Western.... History refuted the Americans and led to greater world instability that the communists shrewdly exploited.
I remember how much the American military and conservative punditocracy decried how American must never, ever be palced under UN or foreign command after the fiasco of Operation Restore Hope. Well the French could make the same argument and know first hand never to entrust its soldiers to a foreign command. How many Americans are aware that during the Algerian war, that their country vetoed France from transferring their troops under NATO command to fight in Algeria. Even if by legal fiction Algeria was an integral part of France, the point was the French military treated the country as if it were Lille or Provence. Imagine the hysteria if a European country prohibited America from defending the U.S. Virgin islands. So France withdrawal from NATO military command while staying on the Atlantic council was pragmatic decision not to fragment the Alliance at critical moment.
Stephan must have read Ken Layne's article on how American needs to delegate to the Europeans their own defense. I concour with both Stephan and Ken; I'm only skeptical that'll happen because deep down American doesn't really want the Europeans to defend themselves. America prefers to keep the Europeans dependent as possible thus maintaining a veto on the continent's policies that would be inimical to American interests. Hence by playing the sympathy seeker role: that America sacrifices its economic wellbeing to protect the Europeans who are too lazy to defend themselves, Americans will perpetuate their dominance. Unfortunately, the European see right through the charade hence their hostility.
I'm deeply conflicted:on the one hand, I think if the French, and Germans, suffered some ostracism within the democratic world, the cold reception would force a deep and far reaching reevaulation of their place in the world. The subsequent change of attitude would allow the French to become fruitful and creative and helpful allies again. On the other, I'm so deeply turned off by America's moralizing peacock preening that leads it to hector other countries' more forthright pursuit of national interest. As if America were the only one to eschew national interest for purely idealistic pursuits of bettering the world. As I've complained quite plainly: I'm exasperated by the America is the lighthouse of the world attitude. The country can legitimately pursue its national interest; just don't always sugar coat it with jarring sermons
Update:Over at the Winds of War, Trent and Joe have written some rather cogent arguments about France, the French and their place in the world. By and large I concour with their pessimistic assessment. I even seem to have anticipated that the U.S. will cripple the French economy both to sanction the country's betrayal at the U.N and to prevent the EU from becoming an extension of French power.
Where I become very leery is the rousing of the Jacksonian base in American society. It's one thing to exercise payback to advance America's interests; it'll be quite another to hear the Jacksonians alternatively gloat over France's ostracism and the moralizing self-righteousness. I fear that the Jacksonians will intoxicate America and mortify France (and Germany) a little too egregiously. One thing that everyone should avoid, is to give France the impression that it's being surrounded by hostile powers. The last time that happened, Richelieu unleashed the full might of France's military and the last half of the 30 Years' war become a brutal contest of sheer naked pursuit of aggrandizment for its own sake. Let's help France and Germany suffer some constructive humility so that they can become once again, helpful, creative and fruitful allies; not paranoid, bitter exiles within the democratic countries or the world.
Gràcies a John i a 'Jesus Gil' per llurs commentaris sobre la desarticulació de la cel.lula terrorista en Catalunya. Segons les informacion, es tracta de la facció Salfista de la GIA i gairebé la majoria del arrestas son algeris, marroquis I alguns pakistanesos. Es a dir persones mig-orienntal o musulmans.
Les mateixes fonts indiquen que aquesta cel.lula no sols planficava atacs terroristes anb armes quimiques contre ciutats europees ans també cometien actes criminals quan falsificaven tarjetas de credits o en robaven.
Es ben sabut que John i jo discrepem amb moltes temes però compartim la mateix actitud envers el terrorisme i aquell practicat pel al Qu'ida: constitueix una menaça contra la civilització. Com John espero que els polítics francesos i alemanys s'obrien els ulls i opposar els americans o altres europeus per malgeni.
Quan els pares oieren les notítices de la desacrticulació, papa comentà que detectar i arrestar membres de cel.lules terroristes es molt més important i efectiu que guerrjar contra Irac. Personalment no hi veig cap contradicció entre ambdós. Papa continuava i deia que d'ara dendavant, tothom que miri els àrabs i musulmans; els tractaran amb recèl.Protestaran però tant que denuncïin el terrorisme fet en nom d'islam, els catalans i els espanyols s'enfoutaran
Regime change will remain incomplete and a strategic failure until America revenges itself
on the collaborators of the Saddam/Ba'athist regime. Consequently, the Administration must
adopt active measures against France and Germany.
1) America must cripple the Franco-German economies, undermine their political institutions
ostracize them from the institutions of the advanced industrialized countries. The resulting
instability must go beyond what either country experienced in the 30s. America needs to oil the
road and ensure that both countries careen into the abyss since they're haded there in any case.
2) French military action in the Côte Ivoire is unacceptable; consequently the American military
and spy agencies should seek out the rebels to provide them with detailed satellite photos of
French military positions and cracked radio frequencies. Then launch the Armed rabble in
uniform tm to defeat the French in yet another Dien Bien Phu. Once the French are
abjectly humiliated, they will be forced to leave Africa as the Francophone countries will
repudiate their defense and trade treaties.
3) Order French and German nationals must submit to the same identification and finger
procedures that Mideastern nationals no face.
4) Endanger the lives of German and French nationals abroad by withholding critical intelligence
from the respective spy agencies. What are a few dead French and German when America has
enthusiastic Eastern Europeans eager to welcome Americans to their countries with new markets
A humiliated and isolated France and Germany would advance American interests within
Europe. A weakened France and Germany would allow America to conclude bilateral treaties
with individual countries. Indeed America finds itself in the same position as the British in the
post Napoleonic period: both could tolerate several, competing powers but neither could tolerate
a unified continental hegemony.
It's unfortunate that Den Beste's emotionalism towards France and Germany clouds his judgement. If the Americans followed Den Beste's threat to boycott European products and vacations, that would play right into the Eurocrats' authouritarian and statist mentality. They'd be able to go to the Europeans and say we toldja that the America is a cowboy hegemonic country that screws the rest of the world based on unilateral actions. Free trade it's just an ideological smokescreen to perpetuate American economic dominance and on go the grievences.
Worse, it's bad enough that France and Germany are flirting with vile antisemitism and repulsive anti-Americanism but constantly lumping together other political leaders and ordinary citizens with the present French and German leadership isn't only insulting it's politically myopic. Eventually, there will be elections with new leaders. Unfortunately given the current American attitude towards Europe, the new leaders and the electorate will conclude that no matter what they do,say or act, they'll be treated like shit anyway so why bother. Further, the next French and German leader won't brown nose the American administration just to make amends because the past leaders were jerks. Den Beste forgets that America doesn't monopolize pride, honour, fear, dignity; yet he demands that the French and Germans grovel in abject contrition because they crossed the American administration.
Indeed, what a temerarious attitude to adapt that any country that's friendly towards Germany and France are unfriendly towards the United States. American leadership simply doesn't possess any oracular talents to divine the intentions or reasons behind other countries' interests and hence should demonstrate modesty in such matters. America really has to stop strutting like some preening peacock cackling loudly to draw attention to its beauty and power.
If Den Beste indeed articulate as such the Jacksonians than I'll vociferously obstruct them as well them. Even as a moderate pro-American, I won't tolerate the shrill self-rightousness bullying smugness resulting from some misguided idea that America is the lighthouse of the world and no one must ever dare to cast a shadow the light.
The alliances that the current war on terrorism form, are fluid and dynamic. Consequently, it's quite reasonable to conclude that the U.S. and France will soon ally together against a common threat. My own view is that America will soon turn its attention to Africa and that the Americans will quickly realize that their influence and power are relative in that continent. The French regard Africa as its sphere of influence given the blood and treasure they've sacrificed there. The Jacksonians can rant and posture about France's callous indifference to principles but the shrill moralism is quite frankly irrelevant. The French would have some leverage under such circumstances and they'll use their relative influence to negate the chilly attitude that Americans have towards them and advance French interests and Americans advance theirs.