Iraq War Protest - In Defense of France

Launched: 04/27/2003      Updated: 09/14/2006

I'm sick and tired of Americans bashing France and its people.   (and I'm an American!)

Now before I launch into this, be aware that I've never been to France. I don't spend any time with people from France, and it's not even in the top list of countries I want to visit. I've heard all the stories of their being arrogant, rude, and so on. Whether or not any of that is true, it has absolutely NO bearing on why I feel that France has been unjustly denegrated.

Recently I got an email from someone. You know the kind of emails- The "rah rah" type, which glorifies anything American, and bashes anything not. It was supposedly from the president of the French's Mustard company. You've seen it before- the common yellow condiment that's found everywhere. It seems he said that French's has nothing to do with France, the only thing they have in common with France is that they're both yellow (incinuating that the inhabitants of France are cowards). "Wasn't it funny?" I was asked. The answer is no. Absolutely not.

You see, I'm tired of hearing of "freedom fries" instead of "french fries"; I'm tired of hearing how France wouldn't still exist if we hadn't saved them in World War II; I'm tired of all the unfunny jokes I've heard since our occupation of Iraq was billed to us as looking for WMDs.
Here are a number of things to consider:

  • Perhaps Hitler would have devastated France in WWII had we not stepped in. That does not give us the right to expect that they'll agree with everything we try to do until the end of time. A difference of opinion should not be misinterpreted as being a lack of loyalty. Sometimes our friends need to tell us that we're out of line.

  • Those who keep bringing up how we "saved France in WWII" seem to conveniently forget that we had a LOT of help from France much earlier. If we hadn't had their help, we wouldn't have survived the Revolutionary War to form OUR country in the first place.
    The United States owes its very existence to France.

    Additionally, we had a treaty of alliance with France which stated they'd support us in our revolutionary war, if we'd support them if they went to war with Britain. Fifteen years after they were instrumental in helping us achieve our independence, we reneged on the treaty and proclaimed our neutrality just as they were going to war with Britain.

  • No less than thirteen of our 50 United States are a direct result of the Louisiana Purchase. That land purchase was from France.

  • One of our best images of freedom is the Statue of Liberty. That magnificent icon was a gift from France.

  • Just because the leaders of one country don't agree with the leaders of ours, that does not make them WRONG. In fact, to blindly believe our own leaders and not question anything is one of the reasons why the rest of the world looks down upon us.

  • And let's look at the decision of Jacques Chirac to veto U.S. invasion- He did NOT say that going to war with Iraq was wrong, and should never happen. He simply said that it was not yet time to invade, that the inspections were working, that some more time was needed to ensure that Hans Blix and his team explored every possibility of illegal weapon identification and removal.

  • To accuse the French people of cowardice is prejudice of the worst kind. It's absurd to judge an entire country of people based upon their leaders. Regardless of whether or not one is a fan of our president, can it be said that EVERYONE is ALWAYS behind our leaders? Surely not! Making disparaging comments about the French are just as bad as other countries hating Americans based upon the policies of our leaders.
    In fact, it's WORSE- We should know what it's like to be hated for the decisions of our leaders (and if anyone doesn't realize that we're hated, they're clearly not paying attention).

  • Russia's foreign minister Igor Ivanov said that Russia too would use its veto power if the situation demanded. But I don't hear any Americans making rude comments about Russia and its people. Why is that? While Russia might not be considered a superpower any longer, could it be because their strength is still second in the world? That they have the capability of retailiation that France does not have? Could there be ANY other reason why short-sighted Americans make fun of France but not Russia? Or China? Or Germany? That's a double-standard at best, and tremendously cowardly at worst.

  • There are MANY more countries (at least, leaders of countries) who agree with France on the Iraq invasion issue than there are who agree with our leaders. Make no mistake, the opinions are VERY one-sided towards the opposite side that George W. Bush and his cabinet are on. Can anyone truly think that "we're right and the whole world is wrong?" How closed-minded must someone have to be to believe that?

  • The nation of France is centuries older than that of the United States. They've had more experience with wars and global expansion (dare I say conquest?) than we have. They have experience on how to stabilize countries after war, and what the repercussions of these expansions are. Clearly their experience is valuable, and should be weighed in a decision as crucial as the one to invade Iraq.
America is making enemies faster than we're making friends. There's talk of our invading Libya, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, North Korea is worried we're about to invade their country, and our efforts at trying to bring peace to Israel and Palestine have been less than fruitful. With the threat of terrorism (since we can't find Osama Bin Laden and have no way to detect terrorist acts BEFORE they happen), can we afford to let "small thinking" and prejudice drive away one of our allies? Can we not see that there is wisdom in places other than within our own borders? Is it right to hold our leader's values (which do not necessarily reflect OUR values) above those of the rest of the world? Does it not make sense that to do so is to invite more terrorism against our country and people?

Those accusing France and its people of cowardice should be ashamed of themselves. We as a country should be ashamed of the behavior of our short-sighted citizens, because those comments reflect VERY badly on our entire country.

Stop making fun of France. Stop boycotting French products. Instead, have some respect and admiration for Chirac and their other leaders to stand up against the most powerful country on earth to state their heartfelt views. Unlike many decisions that are made here, you can bet that Chirac's decision was contemplated at length, and he weighed all of the options before deciding to veto a resolution to invade prematurely.

In a land that prides itself on its democracy, we should respect that ALL views, popular or not, deserve free speech and the consideration to be heard.

Would we demand any less?

Send accolades, comments, ideas, questions, or ridicule to: Kelly