News

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.
Comments
     
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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs