Hey Americans, hands off our Frenchies!
To my surprise in recent years the public mood within the United States of America has shifted to a wave of anti-French sentiment. To my knowledge this is due to the French (and most of the world's) vocal condemnation of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This isn't an argument about Iraq, however it's a bit unfair to attack the French with as much poison as I witnessed from the US Administration and the American media. The Germans were similarly opposed; however, lucky for them they received a healthy dose of Freedom™ explosives sixty years ago.
Now please don't get me wrong, I love picking on the French as much as the next man. Before going further allow me to fill in some details. I am an Australian of English and German descent and have just finished high school. Instead of starting university immediately I decided to travel overseas and experience more of the world. I now live in Normandy, France (Ah the irony!). The cheese, bread and wine are fantastic and I find their culture of promiscuity and villages turning into ghost towns when lunch and siesta time amusing.
At the same time I have a beret labeled 'The Arrogant Frog', dislike that the airport unhelpfully crams people into a small place with only two customs officers to deal with a plane full of jetlagged and disgruntled people, their poor grasp for interior decoration and house maintenance and I contemptuously laugh at the notion the French Revolution was responsible for anything more that the brutal overthrow of a monarchy in exchange an even more brutal anarchy until a great and powerful Corsican had to clean up the mess and become their emperor.
If you're American I better continue to arouse your attention by stating some more French truths. They got what was coming to them at Điên Biên Phu. Our Prime Minister at the time Paul Keating should have sent the Australian Navy to forcibly intervene and stop Jacque bloody Chirac from radiologically obliterating Pacific atolls and polluting the seas where I live and Napoleon only lost Waterloo because of hemorrhoids and the fact he had to resort to using real French troops as opposed to his legions of foreigners who became permanent frozen landscaping features on the Russian steppe.
It would be a betrayal of my culture and down right unpatriotic to not make jokes about France and as Blackadder suggested, their self removing trousers. One side of my ancestry has feuded with them as mortal enemies for a millennia and the other tends to invade them on wine gathering expeditions every fifty years… which they are running a little late on this time if I might add. So after this necessary establishment of facts I come to my point: the United States has no right to mock of abuse the French. That right is exclusively ours and highlights a lack of respect and gratitude on behalf of Americans. To put it simply in prison terms, hands off our bitch!
I think its disgusting that Americans can so virulently attack the French the way they have. I have heard the attitudes of many ordinary Americans whom I consider my friends and I feel the need to set the record straight. In a simple nutshell, America is pissed off with France because they didn't want to invade Iraq. The French said no, we don't to. Americans get upset with what they see as ungrateful and disloyal French reactions.
Where oh where do I start? First, its incorrect to say the French aren't grateful to the Americans for both world wars.
Thousands of brave Americans, as well as British, Canadians, Australians and many others gave there lives to liberate France. The memory of that is all around me today. Where I live in Normandy was the American zone in the D-Day invasion of Europe in 1944. The French are very grateful today. In the next town of Perier there is a small memorial which thanks Americans and those who helped fight the Germans. Next to the French flag, they fly the Stars and Stripes in respect. This is just a small part of it. While they disagree today it doesn't mean they have forgotten that without America there would be no France today.
I wonder if the same remembrance and respect would swing both ways? This may or may not come as a shock to some but without the French there would be no United States of America! For all those Frog bashing patriots whose jaws have just dropped, unleashing the Freedom Fries they were chewing all over themselves I'll give a moment for that statement to sink in. Yes, without the French, and to a lesser degree the Spanish, the revolution would have been crushed beneath the might of the British Empire and the United States of America would never have existed.
France was annoyed with the British after defeating them for good in North America in 1763 had been secretly sending aid and funds to the colonists since the beginning of the Revolution. They finally entered the war and formed an alliance with the colonies in February 1778. Aid increased and in a very public form. The French fleet commanded by Charles Hector Théodat, comte d'Estaing sailed to America later that year to disrupt British naval power in the colonies. The British evacuated Philadelphia for fear of the superior French force cutting off communication with New York. To make things worse, the French presence encouraged more of the loyalist population to flee as well, increasing the revolutionists influence in the community, especially in places like Philadelphia and Boston.
The French fleet managed to scare the local British naval units away from the mouth of the Delaware. After refitting in Boston, the fleet sailed to the West Indies and opened a new front, diverting British naval strength and harassing vital trade. The Spanish were similarly aiding the rebels from across the border of Florida which at the time was theirs. Also note their involvement caused more of the British military to be taken from North America due to the threat of a major war in Europe.
The French fleet unsuccessfully attacked the British in Savannah in 1779 and under the command of General Jean-Baptiste de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, 6000 French troops landed in Newport, Rhode Island to fight in the north after a year earlier most of the British military presence had gone south. George Washington new that the war was becoming unpopular in Britain and that their armies could not survive long in the hostile interior without coastal supply. He planned, along side Benjamin Franklin in Paris to harass the British troops with French help use their navy to trap the British long enough to force a peace agreement. The French Government was eager to avenge their losses of nearly two decades earlier and were only happy to comply. The French had prepared their fleet for such a chance for revenge against the British.
The French and Spanish struck Gibraltar in 1779, the most important gateway for control and trade in the Mediterranean which could only be supplied by sea. Luckily for the Americans the British considered this of far more importance and became the British Navy's most important priority. Without France, there could have been no victory at the battle of Yorktown. The French Fleet drove off the British ships under Admiral Thomas Graves and established a tight blockade of Yorktown. In the allied land force attacking the city, there were 2000 more French troops than actual Americans present. Knowing all this, how can anyone not credit the French for forcing Lord Cornwallis into the humiliating situation that caused his surrender?
Even the peace agreement was the Treaty of Paris. The Americans did strike several blows against the British, but in the end, without the French (and the Spanish) they would never have defeated the naval power and armed strength of Britain, which would have eventually crushed the rebellion. I wonder how many American children are taught in school how the French saved the American Republic the same way the French children are taught about how the Americans saved them from the Germans. The French actually racked up a national debt to help set you free. I've never been there so unfortunately I don't know, but I wonder at the memorials at Yorktown or Savannah besides the Stars and Stripes, flies the Fleur de Lyes or the Tricolor?
Thanks to French Emperor Napoleon I, America managed to buy 2.1 million square kilometers of prime real estate west of the Mississippi in 1803 to provide boundless plains and growing space for a nation across the continent to expand and profit and thanks to Manifest Destiny pillage and exterminate the lands of as many native tribes as they pleased (A good thing won in the revolution now that those pesky Indian loving Brits were gone).
It doesn't just stop at the American Revolution. To some extant the United States was protected by France from the full force of the Empire in the War of 1812. President Madison may have started the war and Americans today will point out that the war was a stalemate and they kept Britain at bay, but there are other factors to look at. Both sides were said to be relatively unprepared for the conflict, yet despite that a British force in 1814 was still able to capture and destroy the city of Washington D.C. They put to the torch key infrastructure and the Capitol building and the White House. The Government and the President of the United States was forced to flee to the countryside.
While the British still achieved this and managed a stalemate, the United States should be thankful that they were mighty distracted by Napoleon and the French Empire. The bulk of the British Army was tied up in the Peninsular War, fighting Napoleon's marshals in Portugal and Spain. The British Navy was defending the Empire, fighting privateers across the globe and maintaining a continental blockade of Napoleon's Europe. The French indirectly this time saved the United States from Britain's vengeance. Talk about thanking your lucky stars. Feeling a bit guilty now as you're poring a bottle of French wine down the gutter as Fox 'news' instructed?
France has always respected and befriended America. Former President and founding father Thomas Jefferson was in contact with Europe's enlightenment thinkers and many French, they both served to inspire each other. Jeffersonian thought is an important part in the evolution of America's government. They also say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Influenced by America's struggle for freedom, the French too had their revolution and overthrew an oppressive absolute monarch. What proof on a massive scale of how much France respects America? In New York City there's a 46 meter tall monument called the Statue of Liberty. Perhaps you've heard of it? It was given to the United States as a gift from France in 1876 to mark the first centenary of the Declaration of Independence. The French raised funds by popular subscription to pay for your most recognisable icon.
They love America. In fact French and American people are more similar to each other than they care to admit. Both are rather insular and are overall resistant to learning the languages of foreigners, are obsessed with the red, white and blue with each others flags; passionately believe in the ideals of republicanism, liberty, equality and fraternity, both are indebted for rescuing the other in their time of need (though only one cares to admit it), both are as a people arrogant to the degree in their civic pride and the belief that they are the center of the world and that the sun shines from their arses. Hell, I would go as far as saying that this modern antagonism is the product each other feeling that the other is stealing their thunder.
Americans and French are very proud people, and unfortunately this whole thing is because both have wrongly put each others ego out of line. France loves most things about America and has always been a friend. They are also quite receptive when asked to help the United States, as long as what they ask isn't stupid. I think Americans need to do some soul searching and realize that France has always been there for them and is the reason they made it out of the infant stages of nationhood. America repaid their debt by saving France twice. France is being picked on now because they had the nerve to say that they would have nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq. They urged that the United States not make the same mistakes the French had made (or repeat their own) when were dealing with the collapse of their world empire.
Now seriously, is that such an unreasonable thing for a friend to tell you what your doing is wrong and they don't want you to screw up in front of the whole school (the planet)? Especially when they know nearly the entire world was against it as well. The entire world that is, besides Britain, Australia and some penniless island republics hoping for an aid deal? Note as well Britain is trying to withdraw and thanks to the election of the Rudd Labor Government in Australia, we'll be out by mid 2008. What makes this most ridiculous is after the Bush Administration orchestrated the cheap anti-French campaign and turn America's historically best friend against them, in the end the French were right.
As expected there were no weapons of mass destruction, the war was a sham and the American people are now paying the consequences. Thousands of soldiers have lost their lives for nothing with no end in sight and now the Middle East and the War on Terror is in a worse position than it started. The French now whose egos Americans have bruised can't help but say 'told you so!'
The Americans, who bought into the craze of Frog bashing hysteria, need to pull their heads in and really say sorry. France loves you, always has and I'm sure in time always will. Maybe once Bush is gone you'll wake up and remember in this world they are your best friends. So next time people like me who have a legitimate claim, pick on the frogs have a go, think back to the battle of Yorktown and how they stopped my ancestors from placing your Founding Fathers on the gallows. Americans need to make amends with the French. If you can't be big enough to reconcile with your oldest and dearest friend, then who can you get along with?