Are the French and the US even?

OK we all hate the French right now for their Big Oil interest that is stopping our war on terrorism (like that one isn’t a GD in itself).

But it seems to me that we may be even with the French and neither side owes each other anything.

We saved their country during WW2 (and WW1?) but they helped us in our war of Independence (and 1812?)

Looks like are even and we should respect their choice to oppose the war. (not that it should stop us, just that we should respect their right to stay out or even join the enemy).

“their Big Oil interest that is stopping our war on terrorism (like that one isn’t a GD in itself).”
Well not to hijack or anything but there is no more reason to believe this than saying that the US is fighting this war on behalf of Big Oil. In fact you could easily make the argument that French oil interests would benefit from a successful war against Iraq.

As for your main point I don’t think nations are going to ignore their fundamental interests because of what happened 50 or 200 years ago. In any event the US didn’t liberate France out of the goodness of its heart. In fact it barely lifted a finger when France was actually being defeated in 1940 and public opinion was against entering the war at that point. Neither did the French help the American colonials out of altruism.

The bottom line is that France along with many countries thinks this war is a bad idea for itself and the region. Many Americans happen to share that view. In fact it was the view of the American government for more than a decade. After 9-11 it changed its mind but it’s the height of childishness to suppose that just because the US government changes its mind the rest of the world is obligated to follow.

Invoking WW2, screaming and ranting about the French, changing restaurant menus and the like only reinforces the opinon of the world that the US doesn’t have the geopolitical maturity to match its military muscle.

Were you around during the De Gaulle days? I believe that some of us who remember that gentleman, see more than a slight resemblance in Chirac. De Gaulle had the same sort of policies towards the U.S. and was very instrumental in instigating and promoting the Quebec problem in Canada.

Don’t we still owe the French for that really really nice table they let us use for the Paris Peace Talks ? Talk about your basic diplomatic life-saver, Nixon would never have gotten America his “peace with honor”, without that little item of furniture.
All this talk about who owes who just makes it harder for either side to advance a way out of the current diplomatic crisis. I do miss De Gaulle. He’d know how to handle a president from Texas.

So the height of maturity is comparing Bush to Hitler, harrassing Americans in France indiscriminantly, and threatening to keep Eastern European countries out of the EU unless they stop supporting the US? Yeah, we could learn a thing or two from those wise and worldly French.

And as to the OP, I don’t think whether the US and France are “even” is terribly relevant. I don’t begrudge them their decision to not support the war, regardless of how much I disagree with it. Further, even if the entirety of human history was rife with the US coming to the aid of France, while France never lifted a finger to help us, I would still be fine with their opposing this war, if they were at least honest about it.

France should decide their policies based on what’s in France’s best interests. If those interests happen to be opposed to what’s best for the world, that’s regrettable, but that’s also life.

No one compared to Bush to Hitler. There was just a German minister who said that Bush was using war to distract from domestic failures like Hitler. In any event she was sacked for her remarks.

“harrassing Americans in France indiscriminantly”
What exactly are you talking about?

“threatening to keep Eastern European countries out of the EU unless they stop supporting the US”
Actually I agree here that Chirac’s remarks were foolish. It still doesn’t compare to months of silly statements by Rumsfeld et al.
“If those interests happen to be opposed to what’s best for the world”
Who says a war on Iraq is “best for the world”?Most of the world doesn’t agree.

In fact by the Bush administration has done a miserable job of explaining how a war is in the best interests of the US. Ever-shifting rationales, bogus documents, bogus claims about Al-quaida links etc.

The French stance at the UN is counter-productive. By promising to veto, they are ensuring the demise of the UN, as the US will attack Iraq without a resolution.

Instead, they should follow the lead of China and take on a position of passive resistance–voice your disapproval but make no promises. This will make it easier to forge compromises or stall for time.

Foreign policy is not a matter of keeping score. For any country to say that they will go along with something they are opposed to because another country did something for them 50 or 100 years or days ago is in my opinion an anethema to the whole idea of democratic rule. I this regard, I have no problem with France. How many times are they supposed to agree in return for their freedom. Forever? Something less?

I do however, have a major problem with France lobbying Turkey not to allow the US to use its airspace or military bases for the coming war. That will cost money and lives, is IMNSHO very, very ill-advised and is a totally different matter from the way they have acted in the UN. I also have a problem with the way the French have gone about the whole Iraqi matter. They have been duplicitous, and I think are clearly more set on curbing US power (rightly or wrongly) than they are on finding a genuine solution to the war.


Turkey has a big problem with its Kurdish minority. That people is present in northern Iraq and will be one of the main beneficiaries of any war - if Saddam loses. Turkey will not support the US for this reason. France did not lobby them, they discussed the matter and France said it would support Turkey’s already-expressed view of not letting the US use NATO bases inside Turkey.


What they are doing is holding a preliminary battle on the turf of the UN. There are a number of scenarios: the UN caves in to the minority demand for war (pusillanimous), or they recognise that the leadership in Iraq is a danger for the Iraqis as well as for everyone else and take action (brave and IMHO proper), or they follow the votes of the UN (pusillanimous). What we should be having is a debate about whether democracy is actually helping at this point in history.


There is some evidence that de Gaulle was trying to offer an alternative to what he saw as US forcible hegemony of the world. If so then he was a greater statesman than he is already considered to be. All he had to play with though was France, and it can also be interpreted as sheer bloody-mindedness. Chirac is not cut from the same cloth. He is right about the EU, though - those who join it must join because they want to and in order to work for the best for Europe, not becasue they want to get closer to the US. Those who do not want to can take the same place as the UK.

What happened years ago should mean nothing. Their view is right or it is wrong. And they are entitled to their own view, even if it is wrong, without the childish shit described already in this thread. And yes, they shouldn’t be childish either. They need to debate and try to reach common ground, not rename menu items.

On one of the CNN talk shows this morning, they said that France was actively lobbying Turkey not to have another vote allowing the US to use Turkish airspace. They said that France had promised Turkey entry into the EU in return. I have not read or seen anything more formal, but that is the instance to which I was referring, not to a generalized support for the Turkish position. I suspect in the next few days, we will get more details and find our what the source of the allegation is, if any.