Why is America friendly with Great Britian, but not France?

Maybe it is simple as ‘different languages’, but…
Given that the following is true:

-Without France, we would not have been able to succuessfully wage the War of Independence against Britian.

-Without France, we would not have been ‘succuessfull’ in the war of 1812 against Britian.

-Without America, WWI could have been a good deal nastier for France. (Referring mainly to the industrial support we gave to France, but I don’t know much about WWI)

-Without America, France would not have been liberated during WWII.

Why aren’t we buddy-buddy with France instead of Jolly Ole’?

It seems that since the mid-late fifties, our relations with France have been rather cool. Not that we are going to war soon, but I don’t get it. National egos? Missunderstanding? What gives?

The French hate us. I don’t know why, they just do. They take pride in it. Must be some intellectual snobbiness thing. Their politics and ours have taken radically different turns, maybe that’s part of it.

The Brits pretty much support everything we do, the French pretty much oppose everything we do.

So, after doing alot for France and getting the cold shoulder in return, I guess we’ve decided we just don’t give a crap about France anymore. Good riddance, IMHO.

Just watch the film European Vacation and you’ll have a pretty good idea why.

The OP takes a rather sentimenal view of international relations. By and large, states take action based on their own interests. France, based on what it consider to be its own interests and the interests of its citizens, doesn’t always agree with what the U.S. does, based on what the U.S. considers to be its interests and the interest of its citizens.

Still, all joking aside, it’s not like the French are our deadly enemies or something. France is still a member of NATO, and the United States and France are allies, pledged to regard an attack on one nation as an attack on the other. The French fought alongside us in the Gulf War (well, admittedly so did the Syrians–like I said, states act in their own interests) and in Afghanistan.

As nation states, France and America are firm allies. As MEBuckner noted, both are members of NATO, sworn to defend each other, and any differences in international policy are merely when the interests of the two parties clash in relatively minor ways.

I think any real dislike comes more down to the individual people’s views in the street rather than the country’s policy as a whole. I don’t think the French and Americans hate each other, rather there is just a culture clash in some areas. Britain and America have a similar culture, and this may go someway to explaining the close relationship there. For example, America and Britain are both fairly capitalistic in outlook. The French, I believe, favour the higher taxes, free welfare for all modal. I won’t go into the rights and wrongs of these two outlooks.

I would say that the French have a similar philosophy towards the British as they do towards Americans (at least since we stopped fighting all the time), but perhaps seem more opposed to America at this moment, as America is the super power and the larger influence in the world.

Perhaps any animosity we see is more to do with the French people resenting what they see as the Americanisation of the world, sometimes closer to home than they’d like?

Finally, let’s not forget France had many allies in the World Wars, and any American-French alliances against the British are going back a long long way. Even back then I suspect it was more to do with individual interests than any comradeship. (Don’t forget Britain and France were at war throughout a great deal of that period. It stands to reason that the French would choose to help the Americans and want to weaken the British).

By the way, RobertTB, you might want to read one of the many threads on the war of 1812 to get the whole picture on just who was successful. It seems like one of those twisted history moments where different sides tell different stories. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Because the U.k. has an odd habit of doing what the U.S.A tells it to.


Possibly. I think that is more a case of having the same goals and interests and wanting a share of the spoils. If the “American Devil” were taken out of the picture, who would be next in the fanatic’s scope?

I personally think Blair is trying to play a clever, but dangerous game. I wonder if he’ll pull it off.

France/the French have seen their cultural supremacy fade since the 19C. Up to that time, French was the international language, and French art, music, literature, thought were all top or equal top. The British Empire had already put France in second place strategically, and the rise of the US and the “Anglo-Saxon” world finished the job in the cultural sphere.

It’s a question of “chip on shoulder”. They take the symbolism - which language is used in international bodies, etc - very seriously. It’s galling (de-gaulling??? ha ha) for them to see (in their perception) the world’s language, culture etc divided into just two categories - Anglo-Saxon, and the rest. “Le monde anglo-saxon” is still a bugbear to some of them. Read Le Monde Diplomatique (it’s on-line).

As for the OP - to the extent countires are like people and remember past favors, the US and UK are closer because they have a recent history of strong cooperation, starting with WW2. Favors done by France in the 18C are remembered through the naming of a few high schools after Lafayette, and that’s it.

Who was it that said Alexis de Tocqueville is one of only three Frenchmen to visit America and leave liking the place?

The UK and the USA have a shared language, a shared culture, and a shared history. We watch each other’s movies, read each other’s literature, and feel comfortable visiting each other’s countries. Those simple things count for an awful lot.

There are also many millions of individual friendships between the two countries - I personally have at least 20 good friends in America - multiply that for everyone in Britain and it adds up to a pretty strong tie. Probably stronger than exists between the USA and France. As to why that is, see paragraph above. :slight_smile:
And for us in the UK we can contrast the USA with our European ‘allies’ whose idiot wars in living memory alone cost millions of British lives, not to mention the countless billions of pounds that goes year after year towards EU membership. Small wonder we’re a lot more friendly to America.

Given they had to translate Harry Potter for a US audience, I hardly think this is true…

We’re not friendly with France? Since when?

They CHOSE to translate it. They didn’t have to. It was kind of a stupid thing to do, to be quite honest; American kids have been reading British literature for generations.

I’m guessing that a lot of the annoyance that American diplomats have towards the French is their hypocrisy. Right now the French are protesting US unilateralism, but does anybody remember the French nuclear testing at Moruroa Atoll? Not only that, they bombed the Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior.


And they protested Bush’s farm subsidies whilst ignoring the fact that their own farmers already have even higher subsidies.

Also, note that the French came to our aid almost 200 years ago. There’s a perception that the US is always having to bail out the French - WWI, WWII, Vietnam (not that we did much better with Vietnam). France is seen by many as the loud-mouthed, wimpy little brother.

In addition, France frowns upon the nature of our culture. We are a loud, individualistic, impulsive people, and furthermore, we’re damned proud of it. The French culture is driven by their intelligentsia - and their intelligentsia thinks we’re culturally inferior. In contrast, the American intelligentsia doesn’t drive much of anything - our culture is defined by the mainstream. Generally speaking, we ignore the more “enlightened” views of our elite. If that were not the case, I wager France and the US would be more similar. As it stands, they (their politicians and their elite, at least) can’t stand us.

Good point. And don’t forget that the thing that convinced this moral powerhouse to hop on board the Screw Saddam Express was a promise that any new regime would still honor French oil contracts. The French are just as unilateral as the US. The only difference is that the US is upfront about it.

I really don’t know.

You would think France and U.S. would be real close. Well, at least much closer than they are. France and the U.S. are close. If France were invaded, the U.S. would help and I believe France would do the same. So would England.

There is a difference though. If France were invaded, I would be in favor of the military helping them. If England were invaded, I would want to pick up a rifle and help them myself and my ancestors weren’t even British!

So, while France seems like a friend I can probably count on, England seems like a close friend/brother I know I can count on.

The French perspective.

Before this century, the two superpowers were England and France. And even when there wasn’t an actual war going on, there was a ‘cold war’. And things worked much the same way then as now. Other countries were defined by whether they were an ally of the English or the French. And whether it involved them directly or not, what mattered most about what one country did was how it would affect the other (i.e. France helping out in the American Revolution was an ‘enemy of my enemy’ thing).

And it could be said that Britain was the de facto ‘winner’ of that cold war in that the next one was between the US (a direct descendant of England) and the USSR. French ideology wasn’t a big sphere of influence in the world, so France wasn’t a player in this (or rather, last) century’s cold war. In fact, even though France was a NATO country it would routinely sell arms to eastern bloc allies (eg. Iraq’s Mirage fighters).

It could also be said that France only finally accepted the English as allies in order to defeat a much worse enemy, the hun! Of course, you could say the same about the Brits, but France not being an island made their need more pressing.

Suffice it to say that the French, not unlike most countries, view the world as ‘us and everybody else’. It’s just that the UK/US is most often the ‘everybody else’.

Even if France really, really, really pisses us off, the U.S. is never going to completely sever its ties with them.


Because American women think French stuff is really really sexy. To an American woman, French perfume always smells better, French wine is always superior, a man whispering in your ear in French is always more of a turn-on, Paris fashion shows are always the best – and, heck, they even credit the French with the invention of tongue-kissing!

With half the American population so ga-ga in love with the country that exalted Jerry Lewis and hoodwinked the world into thinking snails were a delicacy, the French stranglehold on the U.S. can never be dissolved.

Robert, you have it backwards…

It’s not that we don’t like the French, it’s that they don’t like anyone.

I forget which French statesman or military type (I’ll get a cite tomorrow), said:

“France does not have friends…France has interests.”
or maybe it was “allies…”

I just know that Clairobscur’s gonna rip me a new one for this