William Pfaff with another excellent contribution to the transatlantic debate. Well worth the read.
France is systematically denigrated, as to a lesser extent is Germany – Germany is thought salvageable, or open to intimidation, once Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is gone. France is portrayed as suffering from “a profound pathology,” and America’s enemy. In Washington power-corridor leaks to the press, in neo-conservative magazines and on the Internet, France is said to be driven by hatred, national vanity and the personal vanity of Jacques Chirac, and as allied with the radical Arab world out of fear of France’s unassimilated Muslim population.
It is described as incorrigibly and dangerously anti-Semitic. The French, like the Germans (the Daniel Goldhagen argument), are described as instinctively anti-Semitic and culturally disposed to totalitarianism.
France even is “not a Western country anymore” since in “many” cities “no teenage girl can go out in the evening, at least without a full burqa.” (These quotes are from the neo-con Web site www.FrontPageMagazine.com, whose contributors include quite well-known figures, including some from the political right in France itself).
This kind of nonsense sets the tone. Few Americans acknowledge any intellectual or moral weight or merit on the “old” European side, and certainly not on that of France.
Only one person in the Bush administration has acknowledged a European intellectual challenge, and she is National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Speaking in London last week , she made a reasoned condemnation of an international system of multipolarity, and implicitly of the “efficacious multilateralism” (the EU’s term) that Europe defends.
She said multipolarity is outmoded, in the past “a necessary evil that sustained the absence of war but did not promote the triumph of peace.” Something different, under American leadership, must take its place.
The argument, however, is not only a European-American one. It is an American-American debate.
How easy it was for the US to become somewhat hostile to France. And how much anti-Americanism do I come across in Europe? Lots. How much more of a step is it to go from anti-France to anti-European, or to go from anti-American to yet colder relations?