US-France Relations May Be Most Complicated to Mend

Even before his European diplomacy began, Mr. Bush had talked about the importance of the transatlantic relationship. But Europe is composed of many different countries, with different attitudes towards America.

Perhaps the most complicated relationship is that of France and the U.S. While these two countries have been allies for more than 200 years, there has always been an underlying tension between them.

But Europe is many different countries with different attitudes towards the United States. French singer Vigon performs American music every night at the restaurant The American Dream in the heart of Paris. He says French people love America. "I have been singing American music here at the American Dream for over 40 years and people here love it," he said.

At the other end of the spectrum Frederick Royer is so critical of U.S. foreign policy that he started his own satire publication and called it L'Anti-Americain. The articles poke sophomoric fun at American stereotypes. In one issue there is a contest to rename the United States and a fictional day planner belonging to President Bush listing such activities as bombing Iraq and talking to God. 

"This is a response to the French bashing that has been going on in the United States," Mr. Royer said.

Both viewpoints characterize the love/hate view that many French people hold about America. Andre Kaspi, Professor of American History at the University of Paris-Sorbonne says the underlying tension is not just about current politics.

"We consider globalization and 'American-ization' is the same and therefore if you walk along the streets of Paris you will find a lot of people wearing cloths like in the United States, eating like in the United States and at the same time regretting this American influence because of the loss of national identity," he said. "That is why I think you will find at the same time a fascination for the United States and strong hatred for what they call American civilization."

This loss of cultural identify combined with a serious disagreement over the unilateral use of American military power in Iraq threatened to undermine the transatlantic alliance. But the recent Iraqi elections, the Bush administration diplomatic initiative in Europe and recognition by both sides that they need each other offer hope of renewed cooperation.

"The Europe powers mostly France know that they have to do something with the United States in Iraq," Mr. Kaspi said.  "Because if in Iraq the United States is defeated, that will be a defeat not only for the Americans but also for the Europeans, that will be a defeat for democracy and since we have the same kind of political values, if you lose, we lose."

What could significantly alter the relationship between European countries and the United States in the near future is the prospect of a united Europe.

French National Assembly Representative and president of the country's delegation to the European Union Pierre Leguiller says some sort of United States of Europe would be a stronger and more influential partner to both support and counterbalance their American allies.

"In the future we will have better chances of having a united Europe and those problems, especially in the Middle East and in Iraq, but not to be against America but to be a good supporter of America," he said.  And he says while good friends and supporters can sometimes disagree, a strong, united ally will be harder to ignore.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs