One of the more eye opening discoveries was that Roosevelt and his administration had no compunction in recognizing the Vichy regime and ever working out ad hoc deals. Further, Roosevelt favoured Darlan and tried to persuade him to join the Allied cause. Darlan until his assassination extemporized as much as he could. Contrast Dralna,s behaviour with de Gaulle who was committed to the Allied cause and was deeply disgusted by the surrender of 1940.
The more I read through the book, the more clear an inescapable conclusion came about: Rossevelt's political judgment was bad throughout his presdiency: He ratified Somoza's installation, prompting the infamous statment that Somoza's a son a of bitch but he's our son of a bitch; he recognized Vichy and supported Darlan over de Gaulle; and of course Yalta. Roosevelt was surrounded by bad advisors who had their own agendas and not that of American interests: Besides the Communist infiltration throughout teh American government, there was also strong pro-Vichy sentiment; added to that complex mixture was the strong anti-colonialist attitude. Is it any wonder that the early years of the Cold war, the West was on the defensive?
Roosevelt also set the tone for the Franco-American relationship because France had lost all respect due to a great power over its defeat in 1940.
That attitude coloured American policy towards France in the immediate post war period. When the French fought in Indochina, they were perennially short of equipment; the Truman Administration prohibited the French from using any American equipment issued from Lend-Lead and that allocated for NATO defense until the Korean war. Consequently the French lost abjectly in Indo-China. Had the Americans been less naive about post-war national liberation movements and supported France more robustly, South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia would've become a Western-oriented bulwark in Asia. That sphere of influence would've successfully contained the Communist infiltration throughout that part of the world. Who knows? Perhaps the Malaysian war (euphemestically called the Emergency) would've ended in the early 50s instead of 1961. More importantly, South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos under the French sphere of influence would've developed more or less capitalist economies; hence there would've been more countries particuipating to their own defense, contributing to the world economy and containing Communist infiltration. The result, I think, would've been a much earlier collapse of the Soviet Union and its Asian proxies.
History took a much different course and the American intervention in Southeast Asia was just as abysmal as the French.
The final straw came during the height of the Algerian war. The Americans vetoed the French from transferring its own troops under NATO command to fight in Algeria. Imagine that. The Americans once again interfered in French politics. Bad enough that Eisenhowser's repudiation of the British and French military operation in the Suez cost the British and French their Mideastern sphere of influence in favour of strongmen; Algeria, however, had been a 'part' of France for over a century. The Americans veto in both Algeria and the Suez indirectly led to the rise of Islamism. The French role was more direct: had they not cynically betrayed the hakris and let them reestablish in France: the French would've had a loyal, pro-republican Moslem population that would've effectively countered the sullen, anti-Western Islamism that pervades France and Western Europe. Also, the pied-noirs and the more radicaled elements of the French military had been more effectively contained, France's negotiating position would've been stronger; hence Algeria might still have been either still part of the French sphere of influence or at least effectively neutralized from causing mischief.
Recent history doesn't excuse contemporary French behaviour over Resolution 1441 and Iraq but that history does provide essential background on why the French have shown such rancor towards 'Anglo-Saxon' influence in European and world affairs. Personally, I've always found the rancor misplaced because after Algeria the French should've gone through a very deep soul searching period but didn't. I strongly suspect it's because France never properly denazified itself and never dealt with Vichy. Hence the poison still persists and continues to intoxicate French life.
I came across this article about English and the digital divide. I concour with Negroponte that non-English speakers will find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide and thus condemned to perpetual underdevelopment. Arguments are nothing more than rehashed, recycled 19th century analyses as to why Southern Europe, for example, couldn't become capitalist.
I disagree with the thesis that those countries that don't adopt English as a foreign language or encourage its citizens to speak it are condemned per se. Those commentators are totally oblivious how minority/regional languages are making an effort to 'digitize' their languages through translations, glossaries, software. An excellent illustration is Softcatalà
Also, Anglophone culture, specifically the American, is astoundingly parochial. Jean-François Revel points out that the American intellectuals and cultural creators are at a disadvantage; they're under the illusion of a world that uses English as a communicative medium, they're current on world trends, ideas, etc. In actuality that's not the case. Further as an English teacher to adult Francophone students, I'm struck by their interest to learn the language- even if there's a sense of because we have no choice; whereas I don't see the same reciprocal interest by Anglophones- especially Americans.
I've always viewed the Anglophones' reluctance to learn other languages to be one of their biggest blindspots. One that I can't fathom. I appreciate John Derbyshire's admission that Anglophones don't seem to possess the talent of learning other languages; yet I'm constantly impressed by his own experiences which belie that assertion. He learnt and speaks Chinese. A language that I view as elegant but rather complex.