Thursday, October 30, 2008

Re: France as the enemy supporter


I have written other notes where I speak of the proportion in France that is anti-American. It is more than 50%. If we elect a President who represents the U.S. with 50.1%, or even 49.1% of the vote we would speak of his actions as American.

Read the Frenchman Jean-Francois Revel's Anti-Americanism. Anti-Americanism is long standing and persistent in France. When America chased the Germans out of France, the paranoid French considered that one invader had been replaced by another. In the case of something done militarily by France, I don’t think it is unfair to say “France.”

When we helped the British prior to and during WWII, was it because we “loved the British”? I’d say so. Not “we” without exception but a sufficient “we” to say “we” in my humble opinion.

I’ve run across quite a few references to French Anti-Americanism. Jean-Francois Revel, not an anti-American, devoted a book to the subject. Tony Judt in Past Imperfect, French Intellectuals, 1944-1956 discusses the anti-Americanism at some length. The matter of thinking we were replacing the Nazis as occupiers of France was bizarre. Apparently most of the French thought that more or less seriously until we moved out.

I think modern French Anti-Americanism began with De Gaulle. Roosevelt didn’t like him or take him seriously – why should he, De Gaulle didn’t even have a nation? And De Gaulle held a grudge.

There is the matter of the French who danced in the street when Patton drove his tanks into Paris. The Anti-Americanism was most vocal among the intellectuals; which the people dancing in the street weren’t. But the intellectuals were influential back then. According to Judt in A Grand Illusion? An Essay on Europe, published in 1996, Leftist Intellectuals are no longer taken seriously in France, but in the meantime the anti-Americanism has become widespread. Just how deep it is remains to be seen. Obviously they would expect us to come to their defense if they got into trouble – if Russia invaded, for example or if Bosnia had another war; so they don’t hate us utterly. They just don’t like us. They have a list of bad things they say about us. And not just the French. Timothy Garton Ash in Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West, has a long list of America’s sins; which Judt applauded in a review he did of the book for the NYROB. Neither one of them seems to realize that America’s “sins” are all related to our not being a Welfare State.

To a large extent, the current anti-Americanism has focused upon Bush. I would almost like to see Obama elected president to see how the French and European anti-Americanism changed for the better initially and how it would change once again, this time for the worse, when it turned out that Obama was just another American president and not the savior of the world.

Lawrence Helm

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