Email From A Reader

Email From A Reader: Here’s an email I received today from RWN reader Ben Murnane along with my response…

John,

…but the US helped liberate France 58 years ago and that’s supposed to equal a blank cheque of support? Y’know, 5 French villagers still die every year from unexploded munitions at Verdun, where one million French and German soldiers died during world war one. So if the US is still feeling the pain of S11, Europe is still feeling the pain of conflicts over eighty years ago. Europe has experienced Total War in a way that the US will hopefully never have to.

It’s perfectly reasonable that you might not agree with France, but how can you see re-naming fries, and pouring French wine down the drain as anything other than side-splittingly ridiculous?

I mean, most people in this country don’t agree with war, but American Muffins aren’t about to be renamed Catholic Muffins.

And how is your proposal of putting ordinary French people out of work because of their government anything other than vindictive and spiteful?

And Schroder didn’t run an anti-American campaign last German election, what he did do was run an anti-war campaign. It’s entirely posible to like America and dislike certain policies.

Bush said : ‘you’re either with us against us’. What a stupid thing to say. The world is never that black and white.

I hope this forthcoming war will be short and relatively bloodless, and that democracy really does take seed in Iraq. If that happened, it really would be the best thing for the world.

Ben

===

Ben

Usually I don’t even bother to respond to emails like this, but in your case I’ll make an exception.

We saved the French in WW1, we liberated their country in WW2, we rebuilt their country after the war with the Marshall Plan, we took over for them in Vietnam & in backing Israel, we shielded them & the rest of Europe from the Soviets for almost 1/2 a century, we took care of the Serbs, the French will benefit when we get rid of the global terrorist network & quite frankly, the United States, not the UN and not Europe, is the only thing keeping half the planet from exploding into war. So yeah, I’d say France owes us just a little gratitude and support.

Even if France did oppose the war, they didn’t have to participate. They could have simply said, “We don’t agree, but do what you have to do.” Instead, they’ve bent over backwards at every opportunity to try screw us and our allies. They’ve been fighting us every inch of the way at the UN, they’ve been doing everything diplomatically in their power to rally other nations against us, and they’ve tried to undercut Tony Blair.

I do agree with you when you say that, “re-naming fries, and pouring French wine down the drain” are “side-splittingly ridiculous” symbolic gestures and I don’t approve of them — I approve of real measures. Canceling contracts with French companies, putting tariffs on French products, and encouraging our allies not to do business with France.

That’s not meant to be “vindictive and spiteful,” it’s meant to let the French people and the rest of the world know that there are real costs to acting like an enemy of the United States when American lives are at stake. The French people who elected and support Chirac may hold Americans in contempt & they may not appreciate what we’ve done for their country and the world, but I think they’ll understand what losing billions of dollars worth of trade will mean — and so will the rest of the planet.

As to the rest of your email…

“Europe has experienced Total War in a way that the US will hopefully never have to.”

Really? Ever heard of the Civil War?

“And Schroder didn’t run an anti-American campaign last German election, what he did do was run an anti-war campaign. It’s entirely posible to like America and dislike certain policies.”

You are right that it is “entirely posible to like America and dislike certain policies,” but Schroder did run an anti-American campaign as did Roh Moo-hyun in South Korea. Then when it was over, both of them wanted to let bygones be bygones — no thanks. No foreign politician should be allowed to spit in our face and then try to tell us that it wasn’t personal once they’ve won the election. We’re nobody’s doormat and now that we’re talking about moving our troops out of Germany and South Korea, maybe more people will come to understand that.

As to Bush’s “you’re with us or against us statement,” he was right to make it. At the time he said it, 9/11 was still fresh in everyone’s mind and we were getting lots of cooperation. But, Bush knew that once the shock wore off, things were going to change. Hell, we get precious little appreciation for handing out billions in aid and coming to the rescue of nations that are being menaced by their neighbors, so there was no reason to expect that we were going to get long-term help from our “allies.” Real friends don’t need to be coerced into helping in a crisis, but by my count, there have been exactly three nations that have been with us all the way that have been loud and proud about it — Australia, Britain, and Israel. Everyone else has either come with us reluctantly or not at all. I can live with the nations that have sighed and pouted, but have come with us anyway. But as far as I’m concerned, any nation that isn’t “with us” after America has been attacked & is at risk, isn’t a friend & doesn’t deserve to be treated as such.

Last but not least,

“I hope this forthcoming war will be short and relatively bloodless, and that democracy really does take seed in Iraq. If that happened, it really would be the best thing for the world.”

Dittos to that.

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