Saturday, September 04, 2004

Perhaps the French Should Pay More Attention to the Speeches at the Republican Convention

Perhaps the French should take a break from their endless intellectualizing and pontificating and find out how foreigners — especially Americans — feel about them, specifically, about how their government acted during the Iraq crisis. From Yahoo News:
More than a year after falling out with the United States over the Iraq war, France is still a prime target for the rage of Republicans, who are not showing much amour for the longtime US ally.

Democrat John Kerry may be enemy number one but France is a close number two at the chest-thumping Republican national convention, where the word Paris is code for weakness, indecision and international cooperation.

"Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations," Senator Zell Miller said in a thundering address to the party faithful on Wednesday. "Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending. I want Bush to decide," [the Democrat senator (!)] said, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Throughout their four-day gala, Republicans have painted President George W. Bush as the man to trust for national security after September 11 — and Kerry [and, indirectly, France] as a dangerous appeaser.

They have ridiculed his recent talk about a more "sensitive" war on terror, hammered him for trying to vote both sides of issues in the Senate and lambasted his remarks at forging international consensus for US war plans.

"Senator Kerry denounces American action when other countries don't approve, as if the whole object of our foreign policy were to please a few persistent critics," Vice President Dick Cheney said in his speech Wednesday. "He talks about leading a more sensitive war on terror, as though Al-Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side," Cheney said.

But a delegation of half a dozen members of France's ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), here to observe the convention, played down the repeated barbs at France.

"You can't take too seriously what you hear in a convention," said Phil[l]ipe Briand, a UMP member of the French parliament. "If you are a little sensitive, you come away somewhat angry," Briand said. "But if you know it's just part of the campaign, it's no big deal."

Might it be that France better wake up to the fact that the anger towards France is real, that America's sense of having been betrayed is real, and that, in general, when Americans talk, it is to say what they mean? Might it be that, before warning that a Frenchman might become angered by what he hears, that Frenchman should ask himself how the other person's words truly reflects how that other person feels (and thinks) and that sometimes, perhaps, the other person has more reason than he to be angry? That, of course, would be asking the French to cease having a (self-serving) viewpoint of Americans that allows them to castigate, ridicule, or (like here) minimize everything Americans say and do…
France helped lead opposition to the Iraq war on the UN Security Council, which set off an orgy of French-bashing nationwide last year.

…The connection between anti-French anger and Kerry's policy statements, which sometimes do not sound much different than what comes out of the French government, has been an easy one for critics to make.

"Just a few months ago, John Kerry kind of leaked out that claim that certain foreign leaders who opposed our removal of Saddam Hussein prefer him," former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani told the convention this week.

"That raises the risk that he might well accommodate his position to their viewpoint," he said…

(Thanks to Gregory Schreiber)