Monday, August 08, 2005

French Foreign Policy Regarded as Treasonous, and By Countries Closer to Paris Than the Neocons in Washington…

Regarding the Iraq war, the French have developed the habit of snickering about the U.S. accusation of French treason one minute, and making haughty comments about friends being allowed to make independent decisions the next.

Of course, this dissing of the American perception of having been stabbed in the back in early 2003 fits straight into the (self-serving) world vision in which the French — conveniently — are always more reasonable, more wise, more sophisticated, more courageous, more tolerant, more open, etc, etc, than everyone else (and why isn't the world, and especially America — sigh — wise enough to recognize this irrefutable French strength?).

In conversations with ordinary Frenchmen, as well as on this blog, I have often had to defend my opinions — which I liken to common sense observations — of the charge of "being" pro-American with the idea that they must go deeper than dualistic thinking ("If you do not criticize America, you are a mindless zombie salivating about the American dream"; "if you are not anti-Bush, you believe everything the neo-cons say"; "if you don't stop bringing up pieces of evidence of French [or EU] perfidy and putting the Iraq crisis into context, you must be anti-French [or anti-European], et pourquoi vous vivez ici alors!?"), indeed (especially if the French are as wise as they claim to be, and as sophisticated in their thinking, as opposed to "good-evil" Americans) they ought to discard it altogether.

Although I rarely say so in so many words, I try to tell them you cannot have tunnel vision ("Are you pro-Bush or anti-Bush?", "Are you for [the] war or against [the] war?") and you must drop it in favor of wide-angle lenses. (This led to my pre-election posting in which I said that sure, Bush appears to be the worst politician in the world — with the exception of…) Indeed, by focusing their opprobrium on America — indeed, by having opprobrium at all and by celebrating the fact — the French overlook the situation, and situations, elsewhere in the world, as well as feelings of other actors around the globe — the least of whom, in the Iraqi crisis, certainly are not the Iraqis themselves.

In that perspective, let us turn to Eastern Europe: while the French continue to snicker over those clueless Americans and their (retrograde and uncalled-for) aggressiveness toward France, Andrew Borowiec points out (Ginkooyeh to Gregory) that in eastern Europe the "heritage of Gaullism" (i.e., French foreign policy since the end of World War II, basically) is regarded as treason. Excerpts:

Resentment of France is growing in Eastern Europe where French policies are perceived to be anti-American and undermining the European Union's cohesion.

… According to Polish sources, suggestions have been posited in the former communist countries for a more balanced policy by the EU that would see the United States as a partner, not as a competitor. Some diplomats say French prestige and France's role as one of the union's dominant powers have suffered.

Not to worry, though, because of course, the French have a way to deal with this. The people who haughtily proclaim that friends ought to be allowed to make independent decisions can tell that the new members of the EU that they "ought to shut up" and fall in line.

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