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Monday, January 23, 2006

France's Shame

The French have made a living out of bashing America. Both on the left in America and throughout elite circles in Europe and third world the French way has represented an alternative to American “imperialist” thinking. Or has it? Are the French truly the egalitarian society they represent themselves to be or are they in fact more dangerous, imperialist and racist than the United States could ever be?

Give the French credit. They have shrewdly marketed themselves as the alternative to American hegemony: A cultured option to counter the ruthless, crude American savages. But the record indicates this rhetoric is far from the truth. The French continue to be nothing more than a nation whose feeling of superiority threatens world peace, and undermines the concert of international nations which needs to develop.

In the days of Charles DeGaulle, France has tried to create a third way alternative to the USA/British on one hand and the Soviets on the other hand. DeGaulle was committed to bringing down American hegemony at all costs, even if it meant undermining France’s military and economic security. France, unlike England refused to give up its colonial empire without a fight and ended up shaming the nation with humiliating defeats in Indochina and Algeria. French pride it seems rests on imperialism and worldwide recognition as a first rate power. Currently, the French remain aligned with the Germans in an effort to dominate the European Union both economically and politically. Since the early 1960’s when DeGaulle befriended German Chancellor Konrad Adenhour, the Franco-German axis has dictated the fate of Europe and has attempted to shut the Americans who were responsible for rebuilding Europe after World War II, and the British who harbored DeGaulle in exile for four years out of the continent. Even today when the French and Germans complain about American domination of the globe, they are engaged in an effort to subjugate the new members of the EU to the Franco-German way threatening to make Eastern Europe a semi-colony of Paris and Berlin. France and Germany in fact are so closely aligned that since the 1970s they have conducted what has amounted to a joint foreign and economic policy. (In fairness with limited exceptions the United Kingdom has become a prisoner of the USA in foreign relations since the late 1950s.)

Since the 1960’s the French, who have had domestic civil unrest and an unequal class system where the middle class has not been enriched economically have attempted to enhance their global standing and financial situation by selling arms to any rogue nation that wanted them. Unlike the Soviet Union, whose arms sales were dictated by ideology the French had a policy of selling arms to any dictator who stands opposed to the United States or prior to 1991 the Soviet Union. In many cases, the French sold weapons to allies of the two major superpowers above and beyond what the USA or USSR would give. For example, the Soviet Union would only sell Saddam Hussien its lowest class of Scud Missiles, a technology the Russians had totally discarded by the mid 1980s. After all why should the Soviets take a chance that a mad man like Saddam would attack the Central Asian Republics that were occupied by the Soviets? However, the French offered Saddam the high tech Exocet Missile rocket which slammed into the USS Stark in 1987 killing 37 US servicemen. (These same weapons Saddam held back in the 1991 Gulf War in order to keep a rocket reserve in the event the coalition pushed into Iraqi territory beyond Basra) At the same time France was arming Iraq’s battlefield combatant, Iran with similar weapons systems, hoping quite possibly to create a stalemate between the two nations that allowed French petroleum interests to flourish. Other rogue nations such as Libya, Sudan, Pakistan and Syria have all obtained weapons either directly from the French Government or through French backed middlemen.

While American liberals praised French Premier Jacques Chirac for his handling of the Iraq war, (A war I personally opposed because I felt the US could not occupy an Arab County and transition it to Democracy without serious loss of life and without ultimately helping the Iranian enemy, a prediction I wish I had not been so accurate about) it was Chirac, a conservative that resumed France’s nuclear testing in the South Pacific after a long hiatus and Chirac who has created an economic partnership with Fidel Castro’s Cuba and Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. After all while the Gaullests are France’s conservatives the underlying ideology of the party is unchecked anti-Americanism. It is France who for years has coddled the dictatorship in Tehran to the point where the International Community must now disarm Iran quickly otherwise face a possible Nuclear catastrophe. Jacques Chirac has been a thorn in the side of Progressive British leader Tony Blair as well. Chirac has helped make the EU as unappealing to the U.K. thus stimulating domestic opposition to Blair. Chirac also attempted to get George W. Bush to attack Iraq (A war France strongly opposed) without a 2nd UN resolution in order to force Blair to sit out the war because of fervent opposition at home. Rather than help coalition build and reach an international consensus on Iraq, France helped shove the United States in the corner.

The French are so insecure about their national worth that they could not accept the fact that an American had come to dominate the Tour De France and that the United States national soccer team advanced further in the most recent World Cup than did the French. It’s amazing the French care so much about their soccer stars, because their premier soccer stars have been subject to ugly racism and bigotry. Zinadine Zidane once considered the greatest footballer on the planet and a key to France’s World Cup 1998 triumph is of Algerian stock and has been routinely hollered at by the right wing fans that populate some of France’s stadiums. The same can be said for Theirry Henry, France’s great goal scorer and star for Arsenal, one of the top clubs in the English Premier League. Henry, this past fall in an interview with Bryant Gumbel for HBO’s Real Sports show discussed how racism was alive in all of the European stadiums and he had undertaken an effort to stamp out racism in European Football.

The saga of Lance Armstrong is very telling about the French national psyche and arrogance. Armstrong who fought testicular cancer to return to the champions circle at the Tour the France has been accused of various drug related allegations by the French press. The French seem unwilling to accept an American could legitimately the Tour the France. The French press made similar though more muted allegations about Greg LeMond, a previous American champion. LeMond it was theorized by many French must be doping because that is the only an American can win. Lance Armstrong has done more to popularize cycling worldwide, yet the French treat him with scorn and disdain. It’s small wonder most Americans hate the French.

I am not advocating a Bill O’Reilly/ Walter Jones Jr./ Burt Aaronson attack on the French with the renaming of French Fries, etc. However if the American left aims to be taken seriously as an opposition party, they must stop the embrace of France and Europe in general that has taken place since the beginning of the Bush Presidency. President Bush has made plenty of mistakes in world affairs to critique including his current appeasement policy towards North Korea and Iran. But American liberals make a big mistake both for the nation and politically if they continue to hold close French positions which promote French imperialism over the American national interest.


Anonymous said...

The French are sophisticated where the Americans are boorish and the French appreaciate culture and the arts where the Americans appreaciate Nascar and Country music. Looks like you've picked a loser, K.

Anonymous said...

Time for you to join the GOP, Kartik. Just turn in your switch card now.

Camilo Pino said...

There are two contradictory reports circulating about the sell of French arms to Venezuela.

The first one, published in Spanish newspaper El PaĆ­s, says that French defense company Thales will produce weapons for eight patrol ships Venezuela is buying from Spain. The French company would charge US$275 m for the weapons, says the clip.

The second report comes from Strategy Page website. It says that French President Jacques Chirac turned down a Venezuelan bid to acquire two Scorpene diesel submarines valued in excess of US$ 1b. “Chirac is trying to rebuild relations with the U.S., but there's also serious concern about Venezuela's unstable President Hugo Chavez. French investments in Venezuela have been among those "foreign" interests threatened with "nationalization" by the Chavez regime,” explains the website.

If Strategy Page analysis was right France wouldn’t sale any weapons at all. To me, the submarine story sounds like a PR bluff to divert the attention while cashing a few hundred million.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.