can but wonder, what was behind the French recalcitrance over the situation
in Iraq. Regardless of how you view the situation it made no sense.
Consider, for example, the issue of the current Iraqi regime’s debt to French
businesses. A clever politician could work with the United States to
broker an agreement by which, in exchange for government cooperation these
businesses would get money, oil, or other compensation once the new government
is established. It is also a virtual certainty that somehow silence
over French dealing with Iraq under the table during the UN sanctioned embargo
could be assured. What went wrong? Based on their history, you
would think that they could and would have done better.
Consider first that France, despite its lack of international stature since
1900 and perhaps earlier has always been a bastion of patriotism. For
example the term “chauvinism,” according to The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth
Edition is “derived from the name of Nicolas Chauvin, a soldier of the First
French Empire. Used first for a passionate admiration of Napoleon, it now
expresses exaggerated and aggressive nationalism … chauvinism exalts
consciousness of nationality, spreads hatred of minorities and other nations,
and is associated with militarism, imperialism, and racism.”
This is reflected to some extent in the French outlook on some other parts
of the world. In Tahiti, a.k.a. French Polynesia. the colonial
government attempted to outlaw the use of the native Tahitian language and
substitute French in its stead. Or consider the attitude shown by General
De Gaulle when the Anglo-American forces were about to liberate his native
land. Rather than showing gratitude he wanted to take all of the credit
As a nation which has a history of some diplomatic sophistication, France
should know better how to properly deal with the situation in the Middle
East. Even Brigit Bardot knows that the current major threat to French
culture comes in the form of unchecked immigration by people who could not
care less about Louis XIV, Napoleon (yes, he was a Corsican) or for that
matter Maurice Chevalier. Certainly, the Tahitians were never going
to give up taro in favor of croissants, or take to importing Bordeaux by
the shipload, but the fact is that pretty much everyone who lives in Tahiti
wants to be left in peace to enjoy the climate, scenery, and so on.
Not so the Africans and Arabs who have slowly and steadily eroded the French
population base. Already some wags have begun referring to France as
part of “Eurabia,” with potentially disastrous consequences for anyone who
enjoys the French grape, not to mention other cultural traits. Just
remember that Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol.
French hands are decidedly unclean on the Iraqi situation; thus it is not
proper for them wave the UN flag, which they have already ignored.
The better course would be to do a little dealing, as above, and if they
really want to look like leaders, propose the attack themselves, participate
in it, and show that spirit of Napoleon is not completely dead.
Meanwhile, the people of France should know by now that their culture is
fighting for its very life. If the Wahabbi extremists achieve any significant
level of power in French politics you can probably kiss the Louvre and all
the religious, as well as secular art in it, goodbye. Perhaps Versailles
would be turned into a mosque and horror of horrors, the thousand year old
vineyards could be put to the torch for producing a forbidden beverage.
France and Britain have always been rivals. Sometimes more friendly,
and sometimes not, as the 100 Years War (as well as numerous others) will
attest to. Some experts believe that by causing a split with America, French
President Chirac is trying to force other European countries to take sides,
thus creating a new European union in which he would be the leader.
This is a possible explanation, but patently silly. No one takes French
leadership seriously anymore, except, perhaps, Chirac. By siding with
the Americans, England has already trumped their cross channel cousins and
assumed any leadership role which can still be held in western Europe.
When the Anglo-American forces march to victory in Baghdad, France may well
be left out, and will lose what glory it could have garnered by being on
the winning side. The power base in Europe is shifting eastward toward
the former Soviet bloc nations. They know where their bread was buttered.
Ronald Reagan’s legacy in bringing down the Berlin wall and then the Iron
Curtain is their inspiration. Nothing coming from Paris carries any
weight in comparison. It is obviously high time that the French people
and their political leadership rethink their national policy goals and get
on board the train into the new world, instead of relying on and trying to
recapture their past. After all, as Manuel, the valet in the screen
version of Collette’s “Gigi” said, “You owe it, Sir, to France!”
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