[VIEWPOINT]Anti-Americanism to get a French test

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[VIEWPOINT]Anti-Americanism to get a French test

It’s hard to find a nationality that Americans mention more than the French. And most of the comments made by the Americans are bad things about the French.
Although I have not checked them one by one, I wonder whether they derive from the misunderstandings and prejudice caused by the negative impressions the Americans have about the French.
The American bias toward the French is, of course, problematic. But the dual attitude of the French toward the United States is no less embarrassing.
While the French line up at the McDonald’s and KFC stores to buy hamburgers and fried chicken, and enthusiastically watch Hollywood blockbuster movies and American TV serials, the French feel satisfied only when they shout out anti-American slogans.
And France is a country where one can only be recognized as an intellectual if he criticizes globalization, or mondialization in French, and neo-liberalism, although the amount of French investment in the United States is the fifth-largest of any country in the world, with $143 billion.
In addition, more than 3,000 French businesses have advanced to the American market, managing businesses there. The trade volume between the two countries averages $1 billion per day.
Especially, the anti-Americanism of French politicians is so high that it borders on obsession.
Regardless of whether one belongs to the right-or left-wing faction, they believe in common that they can win votes only when they stand on the side that shouts anti-Americanism.
The common knowledge in other parts of Europe that the division between the anti-American faction and the pro-American one is decided by the color of their political ideology does not work in France.
I can understand the feeling of the Americans who express their regrets saying, “These [bastards] might be speaking German by now if we didn’t help them during the last world war.”
Therefore, the solitary pro-American behavior of Nicholas Sarkozy, the French minister of the interior, attracts people’s attention.
Ahead of the presidential election next year, Mr. Sarkozy is looming as the strong presidential candidate of the conservative right-wing faction.
The pro-American line of Mr. Sarkozy, who is also the head of the governing party, Union pour un Movement Populaire, does not stop at his diplomatic policy.
He is raising his voice advocating that France should accommodate the economic model of the United States to cure the “French disease” of low growth, high costs and high unemployment.
Last week, he demonstrated without restraint his pro-American taste during a four-day visit to the United States. Unexpectedly, President Bush welcomed him at the White House. But Mr. Sarkozy’s unusual behavior became the object of criticism from both the ruling and the opposition parties.
Politicians in his party criticized him for betraying the expectations of his political godfather, Jacques Chirac.
Those in the opposition attacked him, calling him “a puppy poodle of the future.”
Despite such criticism, the results of various opinion polls show that he has gotten high approval ratings.
Some 100,000 copies of his book, “The Testimony,” which was published last summer, have been sold. In it the head of the ruling party criticized his own party’s policies.
Since the end of World War II, the key word of French foreign policy has been the “self-reliance” proclaimed by former President Charles De Gaulle.
In accordance with their conventional defense policy based on their own nuclear deterrence, France withdrew from the combined forces headquarters of NATO, which is under the command of the United States, and promoted a new international order based on a multi-polar system.
The jealousy toward the United States, the sole superpower of the world, and the pride of the French people have persistently been a drag on the leg of the United States.
France is one of a few European countries that has not engaged in a war against the United States. Historically, there is no reason for the two countries to antagonize each other.
The emergence of Mr. Sarkozy means that a new generation that wishes to see the United States from new perspectives has entered the stage.
Mr. Sarkozy will be a pioneer who opens up a new trans-Atlantic era. Otherwise, will he end up a failed Don Quixote?
This is the reason our attention is on next year’s French presidential election.

* The writer is an editorial writer and traveling correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Bae Myung-bok
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