Skip to comments.French are unmoved by US 'frog bashing'
Posted on 02/07/2003 3:28:16 PM PST by MadIvan
THE game is over, President Bush told Iraq on Thursday.
Its not a game, and its not over, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the French Prime Minister, shot back yesterday. Thus the war of words between dovish France and hawkish America grew more rancorous.
There are three men in the world who would be wise for reasons of personal safety not to show their faces in America: Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and M Raffarins boss, President Chirac.
Middle America, egged on by hostile television networks and editorial writers, has been whipped into a rage against what is perceived as betrayal by the vain and preening French or, as they are now being characterised, cheese-eating surrender monkeys.
France was rescued by America in both World Wars, US commentators note as French obstructionist tactics at the United Nations thwart the campaign to get Saddam.
They mutter darkly about Germanys anti-Americanism, but the vitriol has been almost exclusively directed at the French: the leader of the Franco-German axis of weasel.
Lets beat up the French, the conservative co-host of CNNs Crossfire programme declared on Thursday night. The audience cheered.
Later a viewers e-mail was flashed up on screen: I understand that the French UN Ambassador was told to stop waving his hand in the air because it was inappropriate to surrender at the UN meeting.
Bill Sammon, the White House correspondent for the Washington Times, said: The Administration has come to the realisation that writing off France is not a bad thing politically . . . I think it plays pretty well.
The British journalist Christopher Hitchens summed up US feelings in The Wall Street Journal: Chirac. . .is a positive monster of conceit. . .a man so habituated to corruption that he would happily pay for the pleasure of selling himself.
France is shrugging off what the left-wing daily Libération labelled le frog-bashing as a manifestation of the primitive prejudices now prevailing in a country with which it has a long tradition of rivalry.
Gallic commentators have taken a more detached view, seeing Americas anger as proof that Paris must be doing something right with its moral stand in favour of peace, while the US air waves and news pages have filled with anti-French vitriol in recent weeks.
Its a little tiresome, one French diplomat said. The Americans always throw tantrums like this when they dont get their way.
The condescension in this statement proves everything that the Americans are saying to be absolutely true - Ivan
But what did hit home was the dismissal by Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, of France and Germany as old Europe.
The conservative Le Figaro, which has become even more anti-US than Libération, noted yesterday that France had replaced Iraq as the obsession of the pen-wielding war-mongers of the White House.
The toughening of Washingtons position has confirmed the expected return to page one of an odious little character with a black beret, a cigarette in his mouth and baguette under his arm: France has not finished paying for the affront which it has inflicted on the muscular diplomacy of Uncle Sam, it said.
The more outrageous American gibes are a source of French amusement.
M Chiracs aides chuckled after Rush Limbaugh, a radio host, said that no one should trust a country with a Foreign Minister named Dominique de Villepin. With his aristocratic airs, the elegant M de Villepin is viewed even in France as a little hard to take.
The media have made much of the US tabloids dismissal of France with the cheese-eating surrender monkeys insult. Le Figaro nicely translated the line, which comes from The Simpsons television cartoon, as: primates capitulards et toujours en quête de fromages.
The media have also been struggling to decode a now famous New York Post headline denouncing France and Germany as The Axis of Weasel. Le Figaro translated this as laxe des faux jetons literally the axis of the two-faced.
There was also some admiration yesterday for the wordsmiths of the White House who are making good use of the English that is understood even by the French in President Bushs statements. His the games over on Thursday night needed no French translation in a country long devoted to English-language café video games.
Over Iraq, the French are distinguishing between good Americans and bad ones. The latter are written off as right-wing fans of le cowboy Bush, such as George Will, a columnist who wrote this week that France was now performing a manoeuvre which it has been perfecting since 1870: retreat.
Good Americans are anti-war Democrats, Hollywood stars and the think-tank experts who give sympathetic replies in impeccable French to the anti-American rants of listeners on French radio shows.
Groundskeeper Willy has arrived....
Who needs them anyway, we know who our friends are.
I hate the French!!
Poor French. It's not easy being green.
We had a French foreign exchange student. I asked her about that.
She said the problem with the UK has to do with agriculture. They don't like the U.S. because we showed up too late in WWII
We must try harder.
Wish I'd coined that phrase! Perfecto! :-)
(Babel Fish Translation)