What are France and Germany so pissed at U.S. about?

I am, admittedly, the quintessential “ugly american” but did happen to read about the small French demonstration while Bush was in Paris. France and Germany are annoyed that we take action with expectation of their support without consulting them.
What are the details here? I would like to understand the French position. As an American I find it tough to get past their attitude given our help in WWII and the idea that the actions in the middle east “are not their problem” I mean, it is unlikely that terrorists would bomb the country from whom they get their weapons. They never seem to help with anything. Aren’t they embarrassed. It seems like US, England, Canada, and Australia have to do everything. What am i missing?

I can’t speak for the French, but I did hear a French commentator on BBC’s Today programme this morning who pointed out that:

a) France, together with Spain, Italy etc had a Mediterranean ‘window’; i.e. they were much closer geographically (and by implication had closer links to some extent) with some Arab countries.

b) support in France was hurt by including Iraq in the Axis Of Evil[sub]tm[/sub].

I can’t say how widespread this guy’s views are…it’s been my sense that the French (especially) have been a little more outspoken in general about the US. Yesterday it was cultural imperialism, today it’s expanding the hunt for the 9/11 perps to include all terrorism.

If you expect someone’s support, consulting them might be a pretty good idea.

I have considered whether this point is a hijack, and no, I think it counts as fighting ignorance - so - bye England, do you actually mean England or do you, by any chance, mean the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

Essentially, america is seen as somewhat as a “monopoly” in terms of military might, economic clout, cultural invasion etc. Just as the american government is worried about a company like microsoft getting so big that it distorts the market, or introduces monopoly practices, so much of the world is distrustful of america. Recent examples? steel tariffs and massive farm subsidies, both against the idea of free trade (and against GATT treaties?). Rejection of a world court. Unilateral military action (from afghanistan , Grenada, etc)

It is not so much that america sets out to do harm, but the mere fact it is so dominant has a big effect when it decides to do anything, and mostly what it decides is in its own interests, (which often means that it against the interests of someone else).

I think the only solution is to break the monopolistic USA into much smaller entities. The southern states don’t really like the north, midwestern states have their own culture, and everyone thinks west coasters are weird. At least four natural divisions.

[ridiculous nitpick - the US didn’t help Germany during the war… it bombed the crap out of it ;)]

Are there any polls or similar info available about the general levels of “anti-American-ism” in these countries? The reason I ask is that we cannot extrapolate anything from the protests we have seen this week. The groups were hardly representative of the whole of society.

France I can’t speak for, though I think it is generally accepted that they aren’t exactly friendly towards the US (look at the whole “Get every American soldier off of French soil” thing from Chirac). Why? I don’t know.

Injured pride perhaps from WWII? (I say this quite seriously - they show a similar disdain towards the UK, expressed through things ranging from vetoing membership of the EEC to refusing to accept British beef even when the EU has declared the ban illegal).

Fear of their culture being overwhelmed by the “Anglo Saxon influence”? (This was one of Le Pen’s platforms, and obviously struck a chord).

Or maybe its just as simple as France being politically to the left, whilst the US is clearly to the right.

This isn’t to suggest that the bulk of France is anti-US - but there is certainly a significant amount of this position in France.

And as for Germany - well, I live here, and I can’t say that the country seems particularly anti-US. In fact, the news reports following the protests against Bush seemed slightly embarassed at the shocking rudeness shown to a foreign visitor - and one from a country that had kept Berliners fed only 50 years ago.

Once there were two friends in a small town, George and Pierre (no specific personalities in mind, just names). Both of them have shops on the same street. Unfortunately, the street is crime-infested, and damage to the property is high. George and Pierre are, of course, “pissed”, and want action to be taken.

George manages to get himself elected as the mayor, and pledges to fight crime in the town (and in the street where his shop is located). At first, he is partly successful - crime is curbed, he helps out Pierre and a few other residents at difficult times. His business also picks up, enabling him to set up other branches in other neighbouring towns and expanding his business in the town. His grip on power tightens as he becomes more popular among the residents…

And so George starts to push his way around. Recently crime has picked up again, the most notable being vandals breaking into George’s main office and stealing valuable stuff… Naturally George is incensed, and he sends in the police to patrol the streets, even posting them around his main office. He also declares the street closed to traffic. These measures do combat crime, but also affect the business of his neighbours (including Pierre). They are angry, as he did not consult them about what measures to take. When questioned, George insists that his measures are effective, although crime rate seems to be still quite high.

Pierre is especially angry as

  1. George is/was a friend, and by imposing such measures without asking Pierre he’s not being a friend,
  2. George is getting away with all these as he’s the mayor,
  3. George’s measures do not seem to be particularly effective, while Pierre’s business is seriously affected.

And so Pierre decides that, “Well if George is so smart as he thinks he is, then I’ll let him handle everything by himself.” When George calls for a meeting with the shop owners on the street, asking for their help in combating crime, Pierre decides to sit there and keep quiet, occasionally grumbling.

And several of George’s employees sees this, and thinks “Pierre is trying to be unco-operative when Mayor George is trying so hard to get him to fight crime…” :slight_smile:

Jeez most of these reasons seem pretty petty, save perhaps the one’s about business. In what way has the US hampered French business? Are we talking about asking them not to sell arms to Iraq or something else?

kidcharlemagne, you could interpret it in many ways; the forbidding of arms sales to Iraq could be one, another one would be a diminishing of France’s sphere of influence in global politics…

The bottom line here is that the US government is acting in what it perceives to be the best interests of the US. If they “expect” support from (say) France , it is because they believe or assume that their actions are also in the best interests of France . If they form that view without actually consulting the French government, there is obviously a possibility that the US view as to what is in the best interests of France might not accord with the French view. The French government will naturally act in accordance with their own view as to what is in the best interests of France, not the US view. This does not involve any anti-US sentiment on the part of France or the French government. Substitute any two countries you like for “US” and “France” in this paragraph.

There’s an interesting article on precisely this subject on the BBC website. Salient point:

Umm, we already have a system in place like that. They are called “States”

I believe (someone back me up on this?) that nearly all of our States have enough government in place that they could qualify by themselves to be independant countries if the organization of United States itself did not exist. The collection of states under one banner, The United States, gives us the incredible power in military and trade that we have today.

The US has laws governing it’s expansion, but I wonder what would happen if they US asked other countries if they would like to join the US as states?

One quote I read regarding Germany quoted one of the protesting “radikals” as saying he had nothing against the USA, and actually, he had quite a few American friends.
He just didn’t like Bush, Bush policy or Bush Politics.

I would say 51% of the American public might actually agree with that dude…of course, Florida would be iffy.

IIRC, the French have sent an aircraft carrier to the region, and there was a piece on NPR yesterday, that stated the US has basically told most of the European nations, “Thanks for the offers, but no thanks.” The reason for this that most of Europe’s military equipment is old and out of date (in the same way that the PC you bought two years ago is out of date, it still works, but it’s not the latest thing). And really, while their offers of help are most appreciated, its not totally necessary at this time. We’ve sent far fewer soldiers to Afghanistan than we sent to the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War, and the effect has basically been the same.

You do realize that WWII ended 57 years ago, don’t you? Things have changed slightly since those days. It’s folly to expect nations to be more considerate of things that happened before the vast majority of their citizens were even born than the way things are today, any more than expecting most people to be grateful for favors done their parents and grandparents rather than for slights done to themselves.

The other posters have said it well. Geopolitics is the ultimate in real-world interests triumphing over any other considerations. And the U.S. is the prime example of that.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

**You do realize that WWII ended 57 years ago, don’t you? **
CITE :confused:

The French are pissed, and rightly so, because the Americans show no gratitude for Lafayette. Ingrates!

Yes. Also a couple of recon planes, which for some reason I read somewhere and forgot, had a particular capacity US recon planes lacked. Some bombers have been engaged around Kabul, and some fighters are used for surveillance purpose. A french unit was guarding some airport in the north of Afghanistan at the beginning of the war, and some troops were engaged in military operations, during the operation Anaconda I believe (IIRC because they were specialized in mountain operations). There are also some hundreds of french troops in Uzbekistan or Kirghiztan, can’t remember.

These certainly haven’t been widely publicized by the government, here. It wouldn’t pay, since the population isn’t very supportive of the US policy.

Anyway, as noted by another poster, the US has declined offers of military help from both France and Italy after the 9/11 (the italian PM was particulary enthousiastic in his offers of support of the US). I understand the reasons were :

-The US military thought it wasn’t necessary, and not even useful, european militaries not being technologically up to the task

-The US weren’t really willing to inform the french government about the details of the offensive, which they would have to do if french military had been more largely involved

So, the french military participation was essentially symbolic, except on some rare occurences. I don’t think it annoyed the french government, though, since with the presidential elections coming, and the US not being particulary popular…
The France-US cooperation since the 11/9 was essentially in the intelligence and financial area.

The french government also complained, at the beginning of the operations, about the lack of informations passed to it by the US government, though.

Apart from that, there are currently many issues between France and the US :

-France is very opposed to the US project to attack Irak, and more generally, to the “axis of evil” concept.

-France and the US have extremely divergent views about the Palestine issue

-France is plenty pissed off by the recent US stand on steel tariffs and farmers subventions.
And actually, if you go into the details, there’s basically a new issue each week. Last one I read about, for instance, was the palestinians fighters from the nativity church. Basically, the French government said that the US and Israel have negociated the exile of these guys without consulting the EU and then nevertheless told the EU to take care of them (which the EU could hardly refuse, given the circumstances). Since you asked also about it , the German government was pissed off too in this instance, by the way.

I forgot to point out an issue which is extremely important in the military domain between France and the US :
France is the main supporter of the constitution of a strong european military force, able to operate in the NATO frame, but also independantly. The US would also want a strenghtening of European military capacity, but exclusively under the NATO umbrella.

This has been poisonning the US-France relation for many years. For instance, some time ago, the US made pressures on various european countries to prevent the launching of new satellites which would have a military observation capacity. Of course, the main supporter of this launching was…France.
There also the IDS issue, of course. And the Kyoto agreement. And the International Criminal Court. And the treaty about landmines. And the election of the last UN secretary general. And…oh, well…I could go on ad nauseam…

Huh? 2002 - 1945 = 57.

Is there a joke here I’m not getting?

I found this page from the french ministery of defense which reports the operations of the french airforce in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year. I didn’t find the equivalent for the army and navy. And it’s in french, of course.