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France and America

Posted by Helen Friday, February 18, 2005

What fun it is to follow up some of the links supplied by our readers. Well, some of them, anyway. Otherwise I would not have found this review published by The Claremont Institute of what seems to be a fascinating and hard-hitting book by Kenneth R. Timmerman, The France of Jacques Chirac (a catchy title).

It is absolutely wonderful to read a review, which starts with the words:

“As a young boy during and after World War I, I read everything I could find about the romantically named Lafayette Escadrille, the young Americans who became fighter pilots to help France in her war against Wilhelmine Germany. But living and thinking through the 20th and into the 21st century, I find myself torn between my boyish love for France and its culture and my despair over what France has become.”
Wow! Who is this amazing person? He is Arnold Beichman, a man who has done many things and been in the forefront of the fight for freedom in America all his life, since his days in the unions where he struggled, by the side of the legendary Dave Dubinsky, to keep the American labor unions free of communist control.

He has been a journalist, a writer, an academic. The one thing he has never been is mealy-mouthed and this review proves it.

Mr Beichman lists some of the problems there are with France and its foreign policy:
“It was Chirac who made Saddam Hussein the power he became in the Middle East. It was the French nuclear weapons establishment that had almost finished building a nuclear facility at Osirak, known derisively as O'Chirac, near Baghdad, when in 1981 Israel bombed it to rubble. Chirac built Osirak for Saddam even though in a 1975 interview Saddam had admitted: "The agreement with France is the first concrete step toward the production of the Arab atomic weapon."“
And he lists from Timmerman’s book some, just some of the examples of French enmity towards and distrust of the United States, a country about which the French ought to feel friendly.
“Timmerman's book of revelations is an eye-opener. Even in the days of the socialist François Mitterand, he argues, France looked upon the U.S. as a dangerous rival. That fear of the U.S. increased when the Soviet Union fell: no more need for American protection against the Bolsheviks. In 1991, L'Express revealed that between 1987 and 1989 French intelligence had planted moles in the French offices of IBM, Texas Instruments, and Corning Glass to steal economic and industrial secrets on behalf of French state-owned enterprises. An NBC documentary discovered that French airlines regularly planted microphones in the seats of their first-class compartment, to record conversations of U.S. businessmen.”
Yup, that’s the French. The only wonder is that anyone is surprised. And, in the end, it would not matter but for two things. The first is that, while the Americans are getting every more annoyed and are beginning to exclude France from various top level military negotiations and projects,
“… U.S. nuclear laboratories are still helping the French, the U.S. is still subsidizing the French nuclear weapons establishment, and, most unbelievable of all, the Bush Administration is offering Chirac the secrets of the U.S. national missile defense.”
This last one may well have stopped since the book was written, not least because of the push to lift the arms embargo on China.

The second problem, which Mr Beichman does not mention, but needs to be taken into account is that France is putting into action a long-cherished plan to increase her own influence through an integrated Europe. Of course, this is not proving to be as easy as expected. For instance, as we have noted before, the new East European members are a little restive at the determinedly anti-American tenor of “European” foreign policy and the tendency to get chummy with unpleasant dictators.

There is a clear tendency, however, to talk of “European opinion” when it is French opinion that is meant. One hopes that President Bush will have advisers telling him that firstly, the French do not represent Europeans and, secondly, the European Union as pushed forward by France and its hangers on, is an anti-American institution. At the same time there are very many Europeans who recognize that mindless anti-Americanism is not the way forward. But who will listen to those Europeans, the ones who really are of Europe?