Tuesday, January 22, 2013

France: the last Western European Power

Of course we should note that Russia is an Eastern European power.

France Alone
, Project Syndicate, 16 January 2013 (hat tip: NC)

In less than two years, France has carried out three decisive foreign military interventions. In March 2011, its airstrikes in Libya (alongside those of Great Britain) thwarted Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s troops as they prepared to retake the city of Benghazi. A month later, French forces in Côte d’Ivoire arrested President Laurent Gbagbo, who had refused to recognize his rival’s election victory, putting the country at risk of civil war. Now France has intervened in Mali.
The American mini-hate fest with France I think started when the French would not let us overfly their airspace on the way to attacking Moammar Gadhafi in 1986 when Ronald Reagan was President.  Spain and Italy also refused fly over rights, but France's denial was the most problematic.
From this incident, the idea that the French were pacifistic and non-combative arose.  Which is odd because the French have been almost as aggressive as the United States in getting involved in armed conflicts in colonial territories.


Francis Lee said...

The French do have a bad rep but I do like their attitude.

russell1200 said...

Francis: On the one hand y'all fought with them more (we only had one undeclared war), but at the same time you are likely to be a lot more nuanced in your understanding as I presume that French news is more newsworthy out your way.

Ragnar said...

Minor history lesson.

The dislike of France started when it pulled out of NATO's military structure in 1966. This weakened NATO as a balance to the Soviets as the US was ramping up in Viet Nam. At that time, Viet Nam was seen as a mess left over from French colonialism. It accelerated as the French were seen as soft first on Arab aggression verses Israel (1967 war (Yes, I know that the Israelis shot first, but only after Egypt had the UN peace keepers removed from Sinai.) and later, as soft on Palestinian and other terrorist groups in Europe. It was part of the Gaulist Le Grandure policy of France going its own way. Americans saw it as ignoring the sacrifices made by American soldiers to liberate France in WWII. That is, as disloyal to the ally who had rescued them. The idea that the French cannot fight arises from WWII and Viet Nam.

russell1200 said...

Ragnar: All good points. I thought about extending backward (to include the French sinking the gold standard in the early 70s) but decided that realistically most Americans, at least, didn't remember back that far.

I think your assessment as to why people think the French cannot fight is pretty much spot on. But if we had the Germans, rathar than the Canadians, on our Northern border, I doubt our reputation would even be as strong as theirs.