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The joke's on the French, ha ha ha

The Washington Post reported yesterday that the U.S. Congress is looking for ways to retaliate politically against France for its recent opposition to U.S. policies, as well as France's own agricultural policies. For instance, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert apparently wants to put "bright orange warning labels" on French wines that have been clarified with bovine blood.

This, as they say, is great stuff. (Older French vintages, it seems, were clarified using bovine blood before the process was banned following the outbreak of mad cow disease.) As silly a response as that is, if the international political sysem were actually working, it would be entirely the right one; the French should be reminded of the consequences that their words and deeds can have, including ones like this.

Sadly, it's not likely to make a difference in this case; the stakes are probably just too high in the military conflict itself for this pressure to change anyone's mind. And given that it's not clear if the Republican-led Congress or the White House would ever find the will to compromise, this sort of talk can be dangerous — Hastert's proposal is great as a proposal (where it serves a political purpose), but would be nothing but damaging — to both sides — as a policy.

The same article, by the way, gives a disturbing sense of just how much U.S. Republicans are enjoying Bush's lone warrior routine. The Post relates an anecdote Tom DeLay told (proudly, I don't doubt) to reporters:

"I was at a celebration of India's Independence Day, and a Frenchman came walking up to me and started talking to me about Iraq, and it was obvious we were not going to agree. And I said, 'Wait a minute. Do you speak German?' And he looked at me kind of funny and said, 'No, I don't speak German.' And I said, 'You're welcome,' turned around and walked off."

Never mind that the reason the French don't all speak German, as it were, is because once upon a time this country had leaders that realized that Europe was worth fighting for.

February 13, 2003 11:43 AM

Comments (and TrackBacks)

What can I say? I'm french, I don't speak german, but I can speak English. So? We're living in the present and Iraq don't need a war. A petrol war, and this is not the first goal of a war in general...

Posted by Paul Monjauze on February 21, 2003 3:59 AM

I am Russian, and I can never see myself approaching a Polish or Hungarian person with the same attitude. I can however see myself asking this American dude: if you think your country leaders were so concerned with fighting for Europe, then why didn't they start in 1939?
All the historical issues on who saved whom in WWII are irrelevant; Iraq will be a different war and the reasons for this one are fishy.

Posted by Alex on February 21, 2003 3:37 PM

if you think your country leaders were so concerned with fighting for Europe, then why didn't they start in 1939?

True enough; American motives in WWII were self-serving, to be sure. But the point is that at least then America realized it was ultimately in its interest to work with Europe, and while the circumstances have obviously changed markedly, it is still in our interests (and in Europe's and the whole world's) that we also do so today, and that is the critical element I think is missing from the current administration's approach.

In any case, though, I think we all agree that the remark is pretty dumb.

Posted by M on February 21, 2003 4:30 PM

Has anyone seen the proposed French WWII memorial? It depicts four French soldiers dropping their rifles and running the opposite direction.

Posted by KJK on February 22, 2003 9:16 AM

In the future, if a dictator rules over the USA, be sure we will follow your example and agree that the best solution would be to drop bombs over american civilians... don't you think?

And by the way, if this war is about freeing Iraq for Sadam Hussein, then why the USA don't want to make war to other dictators? What the American love most, oil or foreign dictators?

Posted by someone on February 26, 2003 6:16 PM

Deal with it. We're fighting iraq to rid the world of yet another radical despot. It wont be easy, but peace - true peace will follow. It could be alot easier if you short sided countries would master your fears & put aside self interest and realize this is a war against terrorism and terrorists. we all have to live in this world together, and sometimes war must happen. Ask yourself would you want your family to live in a Sadaam Hussein controlled country? I think not.

Posted by mr stinkfinger on March 27, 2003 10:00 PM

umm somone

Good luck you'll probably be blow out of the sky before you get withing 2000 miles of the shore line.

Posted by Anonymous on September 25, 2003 6:11 PM

"if you think your country leaders were so concerned with fighting for Europe, then why didn't they start in 1939?"

With 20-20 hindsight these type of observation are easy to make, remember it took untill 1942 ( when the germans invaded your country, like i realy need to remind any russian of that ) before you stopped believing that a peace treaty with germany was possible.

Posted by chinditz on November 12, 2003 10:24 AM

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