Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Beyond the French Syndrome

John Zvesper reflects on the fracturing of relations between America and Europe, and especially the French. He argues that we should not allow "French-led rhetoric to overstate the extent to which European governments (as distinguished from public opinion not expressed through elections) have agreed with the French position on Iraq." Keeping the "french syndrome" in mind ("talking louder than anyone else, making a little more noise, and thus believing that you constitute a majority all on your own"), Zvesper walks us through the problems and possibilities. Very fine.   

Discussions - 5 Comments

1) Why shows the accompanying map Turkey as a member of the coalition?

Thats’s big news to me.

2) I’m deeply sceptical if France will change her foreign policies in any profoundly positive way just because there are some changes among the leadership of the static and etatist political elites all 10-30 years.

"Not impossible" means highly unlikly afaIk.

I’m sure the U.S. would do better to ignore and isolate France, which really is "a dispensable nation".

Mr. Zvesper ignores the reality that France has never been a true ally of the US, not now, and certainly not before or during WWII. Like the French-Canadians who dominate Canada, they insist upon hiding in the shadow of the United States’s military protection while doing everything within their ability to undermine our credibility and political influence: the French in Europe, the Canadians in North America. They both know that the US will not abandon them (we cannot here, and we should not in Europe) so, like the villiage idiots that they are, they can, with impunity, become forceful enemies while claiming to be allies. It is time the United States cease all aid, in every form, to those nation states like the aforementioned two that insist upon subverting our safety, by thwarting our political will, because the only effective American actions they recognize are financial, or brute, military force. The French refusal to allow American overflights years ago in our successful effort to bring military retribution to Kaddafi (for, among other things bombings that occured on French soil)should have been the end of diplomatic relations with them. That it was not has reinforced the French perception of Americans as "patsies" which they have held since Vichy France and de Gaulle’s arrogant interference in the prosecution of WWII against the Germans went unpunished, if not completely ignored by America. They think they are a world player, they are not. Enough is enough. Adieu la France.

My replies to comments (for which thanks):

I agree with christian that Turkey should probably be green, in the terms of that map. I think in the end Turkey did allow the use of airspace and even some territory for logistical support, and has recently done more, but this doesn’t erase the fact that the biggest blow to the initial war plan (with life and death consequences still evident) was not having forces invading from the north. This doesn’t affect my main point in referring to the map, was that the "red states" of Europe have not been as overwhelming as they are often assumed to be - in other words, that France is already more isolated than we are often asked to believe.

Like christian, Patrick Slamon asks what American policy towards France should be, and hesitates (a little) between saying we should not abandon them, and saying we should. I tend to think the ball is now in France’s court, and to a great extent it’s they who have a problem, not us. As christian says, they’re more dispensable. On the other hand, it costs little to wait and see. That’s why I’m raising the question not what we should do about France, but what France might do about us, and in particular about getting a grip on their fear of American "hyperpower." The Economist article recently cited by Peter Schramm in a blog (with a very charming comment appended) speculates about this:

In an Ashbrook editorial in August, arguing that Bush was the better candidate to handle Europe, I noted that Chirac’s idea of building Europe as a counterweight to the USA was losing ground both in France and in the EU:

As for the longer history of relations between the USA and France, I think the myth of eternal enmity - recently constructed by John Miller and Mark Molesky in their book "Our Oldest Enemy" - is as inaccurate and ultimately as unhelpful as the myth of eternal friendship. My review of that book will be out very soon, in the Winter issue of the Claremont Review of Books:

Mr. Zvesper, I meant that we could not abandon France because they are physically in the midst of western Europe, not that we should not abandon them in the sense of mutual allies, which of course we must since they are not now, nor have they ever been allies. The irony is that we could no more tolerate a Taliban like regieme in Paris than in Ottowa because France, like Canada, reside comfortably in the security shadow of the United States of America, the latter because of physical proximity, and the former because of NATO commitments and strategic geography. That fact is precisely why de Gaulle was free to withdraw France from NATO, knowing that the United States, and other NATO members would unable to respond in like fashion, simply because of the geographic reality of western Europe. What followed that abrasive, unilateral action was a tawdry period of France’s defiant and flaunting disregard of world opinion regarding, among other things, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and Atmospheric testing of atomic weapons, the diplomatic recognition of rogue states, and the like continuing to the present day. Because of those strategic fortuities both the French and Canadian governments are able to be de facto enemies, all the while professing to be actual allies; not unlike the unfaithful wife who "doth protest too much," in her claim of purity. Should France fall, I propose the United States fiddle and watch Paris burn, and likewise Ottowa. Perhaps their respective American deserter populations can bolster up a defense of their newly adopted soil: clearly their own populace is unable to do so. However, as a practical matter we cannot afford to allow that to happen, any more than England could afford to see France fall the Germans in 1939. So no matter what eventuates, the United States will be forced to be the first line of defense for both nations, not because of her super-power status, but because of geographic imperatives just as we have been the world’s policeman since the conclusion of WWII. While both of the aforementioned "allies" wail and complain mightly about America’s use of military might, that is precisely their "ace in the hole," and it has always been so. Were that we could change the reality, but we cannot. Mores the pity.

Thx for answering to my comment, Mr. Zvesper. I highly appreciate this forum.

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