France

America's Oldest Enemy Now Bestest Friend!

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Zut! The Wash Times reports that relations between the U.S. and France are tighter than, er Diane Lane and Christopher Lambert in years gone by:

Jean-David Levitte, who took over the French Embassy in December 2002 at a time of strained ties just before the Iraq war began, said he is a "happy ambassador" these days because the two countries have similar positions on most key issues.

"Today, our relationship is back on the right track," Mr. Levitte told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. "These are not only words; these are deeds."

His comments on Lebanon's political crisis, Syria's behavior, Iran's nuclear program and its larger role in the Middle East were almost identical to the Bush administration's positions.

"We share the frustration of the United States, and for the time being, we have decided not to maintain a high-level dialogue with Syria," he said, citing Damascus' continued interference in Lebanon.

"There is not much difference between Washington and Paris," he said.

More here.

But is Lebanon and/or the Middle East simply playing the role of Catherine in this high-stakes, geopolitical version of Jules et Jim? If that's the case, don't get in the car, man, whatever you do!

In Sunday's NY Post, I reviewed The Story of French and predicted a long slow death to the language of Rabelais, Moliere, Balzac, etc.

Back in 2003, Matt Welch banged the gong for France's new "Liberty Belle," libertarian youth leader Sabine Herrold.

And in 1998, Tyler Cowen explained "how protectionism has hurt French films."

NEXT: Rant: Smile, You're on the Telescreen

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  1. -“We share the frustration of the United States, and for the time being, we have decided not to maintain a high-level dialogue with Syria,” he said, citing Damascus’ continued interference in Lebanon.

    Because, of course, there’s no point in negotiating with someone unless they’ve already agreed to your demands. Martin van Creveld has an excellent commentary on why Israel and the US should reconsider their policy towards Syria.

    http://www.d-n-i.net/creveld/deal_with_syria.htm

  2. I’ve never thought of France as anything but an ally. Sure, they say and occasionally do things that aren’t entirely friendly, but we are competitors on the world stage, after all. It’s not like we don’t have our moments, as well. Still, I think France would support the U.S. in most things, if push came to shove. And vice versa. France is one of the few European nations that we haven’t declared war on, for whatever that’s worth 🙂

  3. And vice versa. France is one of the few European nations that we haven’t declared war on, for whatever that’s worth

    No, but we did have a Quasi-War.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasi-War

  4. Pro,

    We did actually declare war on Vichy France. Vichy France wasn’t occupied and fought actively on the axis side in World War II. In fact, the first combat United States forces saw in the European Theater was against Vichy French forces in North Africa. If I am not mistaken the U.S. suffered something like 1,000 KIAs in the fighting. They put up more than a token fight.

    James,

    The problem with peace between Israel and Syria is of course the Golan Heights. The Israelis view it as a knife at their throats and will never give it up. The only possible sollution is maybe have a U.S. peace keeping force there so the Israelis feel like they haven’t given away the store.

    A lot of people seem to think that you can pry Syria away from Iran and Hezbollah. It would be smart for them to do that especially if you paid them off. The problem is people, especially a mental midget like Assad the younger, don’t always do what is in their best interest.

  5. I’ve never thought of France as anything but an ally. Sure, they say and occasionally do things that aren’t entirely friendly, but we are competitors on the world stage, after all.

    Like a brother of a very close age.

  6. I was saddened by the politicization of French bashing around the beginning of the Iraq War.

    Ragging on the French is something that should bring us together, not tear us apart.

  7. Having to admit that the French were right would tear anybody apart. My fingertips went numb just typing that last sentence.

  8. John: read the article I suggested. The Golan is not the threat it’s sometimes made out to be. Among other things, the force differential between Israel and Syria is substantially more favorable to Israel than it was in 1967 or 1973, the only time the Syrians really had a chance of breaking through (and when Israel was also fighting the much more powerful Egyptian Army). Israeli commanders have argued that it would be a small risk compared to the advantage of cutting off Hezbollah.

    And Assad isn’t stupid. He has been engaged in a number of attempts to reopen negotiations. He wants out of the box. Getting back the Golan (which actually overlooks Damascus; it’s far more of a dagger to the Syrians’ throats) would give him what he needed to claim the peace treaty as a foreign policy success.

    But all this is probably pissing in the wind. Syria is a convenient excuse for a lot of loosely related errors and disastrous policies; I don’t think anyone really wants to give that up by making peace.

  9. If we want to change the name of “french fries” to “freedom fries” does that mean that we have to call the French people “the Freedom people”?

  10. James,

    I read the article and it makes some good points regarding the Golan Heights, I just can’t see the Israelis buying any of it. I still think though if you at least demilitarized it maybe you could work something out. Long term, buying off Syria to cut off Hezbollah and shut off its borders to Iraq would be a very good thing. Certainly worth trying, I am just not sure they will ever do it.

  11. “There is not much difference between Washington and Paris,” he said.

    He’s right of course, but for all the wrong reasons. Increased socialization, expanding government intrusion into matters of personal conscience and choice, crumbling imperial ambitions clung to long after they lose any semblance of legitimacy. Smoking bans.

    le sigh.

  12. I think France would support the U.S. in most things, if push came to shove.

    If past performance is any prediction of future results, I’m not sure I would agree. The French are very effective at protecting their own interests. If those interests happen to coincide with ours, all’s the better. If not, then they worry about their national interests only.

  13. I think the idea was that when our way of life is in jeopardy, the French have our backs. When it’s just a geopolitical pissing match in jeopardy, they’ll eat their cheese.

  14. The mission to bomb Tripoli wasn’t exactly push coming to shove.

  15. While arguments over the Gulf of Sidra may have been a pissing match, I don’t think that Libya’s sponsorship of terrorism was trivial. I would also consider Pan Am Flight 103 push comes to shove, albeit after the fact.

    I have nothing against agents of France looking out for their national interests over all others, it is the essence of sovereignty. I wish I saw more of it from the U.S. Department of State. But my definition of an ally is one who provides more support than the French did during Overlord. 63 years ago yes, but not much has changed.

  16. Swilfredo Pareto: surely you know that the French army was decimated in WW1 along with much of the country’s industrial capacity. You seem to assume that they just didn’t have the will to fight. I believe that they didn’t the men or metal to fight. We bailed them out. You make it sound like they were indifferent as to whether they were a satellite of the Nazis.

  17. Our pilots flying a couple of extra hours isn’t push coming to shove, swill.

  18. Lamar,

    I assume you mean WWII, and I am talking about “soldiers” like de Gaulle, who sat the war out until he had safe passage to Paris, but could not be troubled to ask his countrymen to cooperate with their liberators.

    Joe,

    That few extra hours flying time may well have cost two Air Force captains their lives. But more than that, what was their purpose in not opening their airspace other than to be assholes?

  19. “…may well have…,” huh?

    “But more than that, what was their purpose in not opening their airspace other than to be assholes?”

    You mean, why did they not choose to make themselves a party to a conflict that they weren’t involved in? Isn’t the answer to that pretty obvious?

  20. “America’s Oldest Enemy Now Bestest Friend!”

    broken dick empires w/ money troubles hang together?

    they oughta form a union

  21. “…may well have…,” huh?

    Add an additional 1,300 miles, multiple refuelings and all that entails to a military operation and you are adding more opportunity for a bad outcome.

    why did they not choose to make themselves a party to a conflict that they weren’t involved in?

    If you look at the episode in a vacuum and think it was only about conflict between the U.S. and Libya then you are right, it is a conflict they weren’t party to. I hope you support my desire to keep U.S. tax dollars out of Darfur for the exact same reason. An ally would have let us fly in their airspace.

    But if you look at Operation El Dorado Canyon and consider it a component of a larger attempt to deter terrorist activity then France did have an interest.

  22. Swilfredo: the mere fact that you don’t see any connection between the decimation after WW1 and the inability of the French to fight in WW2 makes you unfit for commenting. Yeah, DeGaulle was going to fight the Germans all by himself using smoke and mirrors. Excellent analysis, Swillfredo, excellent. You obviously have formed a political hatred of the French and are trying to justify that hate with irrelevant BS.

    Regarding the bombing of Tripoli, let me ask you this: why would you want to bring the French into the conflict? To save a couple hours of jet fuel? Why open up an ally to terror attacks when you don’t have to?

  23. I don’t think the not-through-our-air-space issue rose to shoving. It was mere pushing 🙂

  24. Lamar,

    Wow you’re a complete douchebag. Go home and polish your J.D. and come back when you have something to say. I would pick your point apart but that would take precious electrons and seconds of my life.

  25. Thanks for the complement, Swilfredo. I’ll polish my J.D. while you figure out why, out of all the people who hate us for who we are, you choose to hate the French, who help us out most of the time.

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