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War On Iraq, Not Chirac
by Esther Hartstein
3 March 2003

Stop the imminent U.S.-Europe Cold War.

I believe I need no further proof to state that Franco-bashing has become a popular American pastime. The naked eye, after beholding the scenes on television this week, after hearing the drum beat of talk radio, should require no clarification. We are approaching a cold war with France, a nation whose only crime is a desire to stay out of our wars.

Throughout its history, the United States has found itself at the mercy of problems it did not intentionally provoke. However, the same could not be said about our current tensions with France. We have displayed arrogance, however justified or understandable, and diplomatic aggression, a tactic that can be just as offensive as military aggression. This time, the USA must take the blame.

We have called the French every abhorrent name in the book. We have insulted their looks, culture, food, history, you name it. Some of us are even participating in a boycott of French goods, despite that country's already suffering economy. We have shoved our agenda down the throats of their leaders, putting them at our mercy for their refusal to swallow. All to achieve the military support of a country that couldn't win a war against California or Virginia.

With about 80% of French students taking English as a second language, do we really believe that they cannot access the screed of French jokes and mockery products (such as a clock whose hands are stuck in a permanent surrender position, implying that the French are cowards) available online? Do we think that they would take pointed references to their body odors so lightly? Why are we being so horrible to a people whose only crime is a refusal to fight a war they don't believe in?

I must interrupt my own insulting diatribe to praise the Franco-bashers for being funny. The humor is a funny diversion; perhaps a French joke brought a smile to the lips of a sick child. Everything has a positive side.

However funny, insults, as a rule, promote hatred. We are fighting a War on Terror right now; we do not need a war with Europe, be it a cold war or a hot war. As the world's fiscal superpower, our economy impacts the world's economy. The French are probably mad at us for the economic decline they suffer from, and boycotts would only add insults to injury. Since when is insulting and impoverishing others a decent diplomatic tactic? Didn't our mothers teach us that rudeness gets us nowhere?

Bottom line is, Europe is not a threat to us, and should not be treated as such. The "with us or against us" mentality must be permanently dropped. Whatever their faults or shortcomings, the French are not terrorists. They are human beings with needs, interests, and concerns. They can be negotiated with when needed, which in the case of the war on Iraq, they are not. Their weak military is useless to us. We should simply leave the French alone and kill Saddam ourselves.

As the world's sole superpower, the U.S. is accountable to nobody. We can demolish Saddam easily, and de-fund the U.N. with the stroke of a pen when they complain. We do not need to pander or posture before world opinion, for the simple reason that it does not matter. People have lives to live and little time to worry about what the U.S. does overseas.

However, we should be cognizant in our actions, and ensure that Saddam Hussein's replacement takes European interests to heart. Being that France has major trade relations with Iraq, it would be unjust thievery to take away a source of income without replacing it. That is about as far as our international obligations extend: we must be considerate of others, but we cannot allow ourselves to be governed by them.

I can understand how some card-carrying Franco-bashers feel: we fought for the French in world wars I and II, so the French have no moral right to abandon us when it's our turn to face down danger. However justified this argument may be, nobody should be forced, diplomatically or otherwise, to fight a war they do not believe in. Besides, this argument leaves out one very important point: in world wars I and II, the French needed our armies. The United States currently does not need theirs.

Please, no cold war on Europe. All tensions are to be avoided, especially when they get us nowhere.

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A multi-award winning poet, Esther has written a book, "Eros Wins The Battle", about a U.S. immigrant fighting for regime change in her native country. The book, filled with Greek myths and poetry, is available at BN.com (Barnes and Nobel) and Amazon.com.