<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d32209663\x26blogName\x3dSideways+Mencken\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://sidewaysmencken.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://sidewaysmencken.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d7682481423868601741', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Are We The New French?

Back when the French were the Americans.

A couple months after we invaded Iraq I was in a cafe in Paris talking politics. Guy I was talking to was a very pro-American French lawyer. He considered the US his second home. He got off a funny, self-deprecating line about the irrelevance of French reaction. "What difference does it make? We are a small, arrogant, intellectual country, what difference does it make if we support you?"

But the thing that struck me at the time was that he said, in a shrill, worried tone, "It's going to be a disaster."

My response was basically, "Look, can I defend the way we're handling the occupation? I don't think anyone can defend it. But we just got there. Give us time. Then we'll see."

And he answered, "Yes, we'll see, and it's going to be a disaster."

Score one for the French. The French were right about Iraq. They were right about Vietnam before that. (And why shouldn't they be, they set the table for that fiasco.) But we Americans don't give any points to people for being right. The fact that the French and most other Europeans were dead right about Iraq, and we were dead wrong, does not compute.

They said, "disaster," we said, "cakewalk." Then, inexplicably, we acted as though we believed our own propaganda. We treated Iraq like a cakewalk and we got a disaster. The French were right. We were wrong. Didn't have to come out that way, maybe, but it did.

If we'd listened to the French, Saddam would presumably still be in power, the French government and the UN would still be playing footsie with him, the sanctions regime would undoubtedly be badly frayed by now, might in fact have collapsed entirely. Saddam would still be murdering and torturing and perhaps -- but only perhaps -- be looking for yellowcake and centrifuges. There's no way to know, of course. Alternate history is shaky even as a literary genre, and it isn't much use in the real world.

Beneath my French friend's worried pessimism lay deep skepticism about the use of military force. The French are skeptical for some good reasons, and some bad reasons. I'm not defending their every conclusion.

Beneath my worried optimism was confidence in American power. At that point it was only still dawning on me that we had fools in charge. I cling to the fact -- yes, it's fact -- that Donald Rumsfeld and his bosses were incompetent because I don't want to go all the way to French on this. I want to believe we can still, under some circumstances, do useful work with bombs.

But it occurs to me that we might in the future want to listen a little more carefully to the French. We have in this country a parodic view of the French as military failures. This is derived almost entirely from the well-known collapse of French forces before the Nazis. But that attitude -- always simplistic given Bonaparte and the tenacious French performance in World War I -- is a relic of a bygone era. We have our own military failures now. In Korea we fought to a draw. In Vietnam we lost. In Gulf War I we started well and booted the follow-through. In Afghanistan we are losing. In Iraq we are losing.

It's not 1945 anymore, and we're more French than we like to admit.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

“Are We The New French?”

  1. Blogger Objectivist Says:

    And will all due respect to my fellow Americans, who take so much pride in kicking the Nazi ass, the truth of the matter is, it’s the Russians who won WWII. By the time the US had joined, the outcome was already decided.

  2. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    I think in sports terms we scored an "assist" on the Nazis. We did take care of the Japanese almost alone. But you are perfectly correct that if you were a Wehrmacht soldier, and you ended up dead before 1945, chances are overwhelming that you were killed by a Soviet soldier.

  3. Blogger ninest123 Ninest Says:

    ninest123 09.17
    nike air max, gucci handbags, red bottom shoes, michael kors handbags, ugg boots clearance, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet online, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton, cheap oakley sunglasses, tory burch outlet online, burberry outlet online, ray ban outlet, louis vuitton handbags, louis vuitton outlet, longchamp outlet, prada handbags, ugg australia, michael kors outlet, replica watches, christian louboutin outlet, ugg outlet, christian louboutin, polo ralph lauren, louis vuitton outlet, cheap ugg boots outlet, oakley sunglasses, oakley vault, burberry outlet online, christian louboutin shoes, nike air max, tiffany jewelry, prada outlet, cheap ugg boots, michael kors outlet online sale, replica watches, nike free, michael kors outlet online, longchamp outlet online, longchamp handbags, tiffany and co, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet store, nike outlet, jordan shoes

  4. Blogger ninest123 Ninest Says:

    michael kors uk, michael kors outlet online, ray ban uk, scarpe hogan, ray ban pas cher, lacoste pas cher, coach purses, ralph lauren pas cher, burberry pas cher, lululemon outlet online, hollister, hermes pas cher, nike roshe run, coach outlet, nike blazer pas cher, tn pas cher, longchamp, hollister uk, new balance pas cher, louboutin, chanel handbags, kate spade outlet, michael kors, vans pas cher, north face, oakley pas cher, true religion outlet, true religion outlet, air jordan, nike air max, north face pas cher, longchamp pas cher, true religion jeans, nike free pas cher, true religion, air max pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, timberland pas cher, kate spade outlet online, guess pas cher, coach outlet, converse pas cher, coach outlet store online, michael kors canada, nike air force

  5. Blogger ninest123 Ninest Says:

    nike free, nike air max, reebok shoes, ghd, wedding dresses, celine handbags, beats headphones, nfl jerseys, air max, jimmy choo shoes, mac cosmetics, hollister, mcm handbags, north face jackets, abercrombie and fitch, vans outlet, baseball bats, mont blanc pens, asics shoes, nike air max, ralph lauren uk, longchamp, giuseppe zanotti, p90x workout, nike trainers, insanity workout, instyler ionic styler, soccer jerseys, lululemon outlet, abercrombie and fitch, north face jackets, herve leger, ferragamo shoes, valentino shoes, birkin bag, nike roshe, mulberry uk, nike air huarache, chi flat iron, hollister clothing store, nike roshe, bottega veneta, soccer shoes, babyliss, new balance outlet

  6. Blogger ninest123 Ninest Says:

    air max, pandora uk, coach outlet, ugg soldes, replica watches, toms outlet, vans, ray ban, pandora jewelry, louis vuitton, converse, supra shoes, karen millen, hollister canada, marc jacobs handbags, louis vuitton pas cher, doke gabbana outlet, ugg boots, links of london uk, swarovski jewelry, ugg, iphone case, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet online, thomas sabo uk, louis vuitton uk, timberland boots, pandora jewelry, juicy couture, uggs canada, converse shoes, louboutin, swarovski uk, oakley, sac lancel, montre femme, louis vuitton canada, abercrombie, ralph lauren, sac louis vuitton, gucci, michael kors handbags, juicy couture outlet, ugg, pandora charms, wedding dress
    ninest123 09.17