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January 19, 2010

The French Betrayal of America

Kenneth Timmerman - ISBN - 1400053676

This is a somewhat older book (2004) but one worth a peak. Timmerman reviews the French-American relationship from the Revolutionary War to the present, observing that in times past we were best of friends, sort of; well, periodically at least.

Throughout, and up to the Cold War there wasn't much bad blood; at least none which couldn't be explained by a variance of individual national interests. Europe remained key to the Western alliance as a bulwark against Soviet Expansionism. But from the time of the Balkan crisis the new Europe was "revealed in all its nakedness."

American strength confers a propensity to use strength when necessary, while Europe's weakness has resulted in an aversion to the exercise military power. It has intensified Europe's interest in a world where strength doesn't matter; a world where unilateral action by powerful nations is forbidden; a world where all nations are equally protected by commonly agreed-upon rules of behavior. If only it was so. American unilaterality is upsetting to Europe as it has become dependent on our use of military might to deter or defeat those who still believe in power politics--that is, of course, the rest of the world. This has been most pronounced in France since 1945, with occasional exception.

France's political system has a major impact on arms sales policy, and the government is in bed with industry in the interests of French prosperity, even when such action is adverse to the welfare of the free world. About this activity Timmerman goes into great detail; notably so with regard to the Middle East, and most especially with Saddam Hussein.

The French doubled down on Iraq's denial of the uranium yellowcake they'd been acquiring surreptitiously for years. They brought pressure in the UN to ease Iraqi sanctions since it forbid so much profitable French activity--they even cheated (who's surprised?) Throughout the 80's and 90's "France's petty sins were overlooked; her greater sins discussed but never punished." The Russians were guilty, too, but we knew they were the enemy.

The French did assist in some efforts in areas where their superiority was clear. It has been improving nuclear power technology while America has not, because the Left has blocked our pursuit of energy generation using nuclear power. As well, Mitterrand supported cruise and Pershing II deployment in Europe. These were their last cooperative activities. Sarkozy remains an uncertainty, but appears to be more attuned to reality, putting general security above national monetary interests, sometimes.

In the last half of the book he reviews, "chapter and verse," The French betrayal of America. It ain't pretty, but it is pretty well and fairly documented. Aside from France's latent anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, there is documentation of their specific and repeated activities--clandestine and otherwise--which have been detrimental to the West in general, and to America especially. Most of these activities stem from deep seated corruption of government in France, involving all of their leaders, all of their defense contractors, and most of the businessmen, Spying, bribing . . . you name it . . . they've done it. Corruption which would be unacceptable in the U.S. and most European countries is de rigueur in France.

Most of French policy was oriented to their economic interests in Iraq in the effort to secure the prime position in oil acquisition and building contracting when sanctions were lifted. They even voted against the first Gulf war when Saddam took over Kuwait (!), and were adamant about Gulf War, chapter two.

While the growing dispute between U.S. and France was an issue, it wasn't alone. In relations with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Iran, Chirac and his government were engaged in unrelenting efforts to undermine U.S. policies to position France as the alternative source of power and legitimacy in the Middle East. Chirac pushed hard to reorganize the procedures for getting exports to Iraq, approved and gutted the export control process, essentially lifting them. "Fly by night" and ghost corporations were established. Excessive fees were charged and paid by Saddam. Sometimes legitimate "oil money" was paid to French companies who shipped less than half of what had been paid for. Other times companies kept 40 percent commissions on goods never shipped. Then, as now, "French diplomacy continues to consider Iraq as a cake to be divided and not as a democracy to be constructed." While France has been of almost no help there, it still insists that Iraq not be under American control of its economy, but under the UN or France, or Europe--anyone but the U.S.

Oil is absolutely critical to understanding France's foreign policy. It is driven by a deep fear that it will be unable to adapt to the post-cold war world, or compete in the global market-place. In that world the advantages and subsidies granted by the state to French companies would be subjected to international scrutiny and likely banned. The battle of the present is not between freedom and tyranny, but between the French religion of the all-powerful state and the Anglo-American system of transparency with its checks and balances

The French do not understand the change in America since 9/11. They still believe they can do business around the globe with dictators they can bribe, without having to pay any serious price. September 11 put that argument to rest, at least in America.

At the 60th anniversary celebration of the D-Day landing, the U.S. media was full of accounts of heroic veterans who fought to survive the German machine gunners, scaled Pointe duHoc, etc. The French papers, in contrast, recounted the horror experienced by French civilians killed in Allied bombings of Normandy's towns. LeMonde even stated that when American soldiers arrived at Saint-Lo they were greeted by local résistance fighters with raised "clenched fists." The paper whined that 13,900 French civilians died in the 6 months surrounding the Normandy invasion, yet failed to mention that there were well over 10,000 Allied casualties--over 4,400 dead--on D-Day alone.

With friends like that . . . . . ?!

And as after thought, an observation by a French historian/intellectual who likes America

"If you take away anti-Americanism there is nothing left to French political thought."
Jean Francois Revel

Posted by Curmudgeon at January 19, 2010 1:02 PM