Never trust France
I love the French people. The French culture is mixed with some great things, and a bunch of narcissistic, arrogant, ethnocentric, racists (culturalists). France as a country is an untrustworthy ally. They will help on things they think are in their interest, they are inept as a government so that help may harm more than help, and they will turn their backs on morals and ethics the moment the winds of court intrigue or fads start blowing against you. That doesn't make them good or bad, just unreliable.
Iraq (or any) War
During the Iraq War, the French people I'd met kept telling me things like, "we don't dislike Americans, just their President and Policies". I'd like to say, sincerely, "it is not the French People that I have a problem with, just their President, Policies, Culture, History, Attitudes, and so forth". Now I'd like to explain exactly why.
When someone judges me, I feel I have the right to judge them back. In fact, to a degree I think we need to judge people(s) by their actions, harsh or bias pre-judgments towards myself (or my culture) gives me the rationalization to judge them more readily. But in order to judge them fairly, I must first look at them, and try to understand things from their point of view, and the validity of their points.
So when the French (or other Europeans) say things like "Americans are Unilateral", I give their view consideration. Then I think:
- who created the U.N. (or League of Nations)
- who tries to work with other nations, despite our incredible power
- how the French acted when they had power, or to smaller nations (like Algeria)
- how well they have considered the world views or the consequences of their actions
So the French can have the view that we are egomaniacal and are nothing but a rogue nation that wants to steamroll the world's views and we are completely insensitive, and so on - but it requires complete blindness and denial that we are one of the most multilateral countries in all history (given our relative world power). So I give their hypocritical stupidity the exact credit it deserves. If they ever want to have a mature discussion about it, I'm willing - but I'm unconvinced it is possible when the discussion starts with accusations of unilateralism in the first place.
French History of War
When they want to be involved and help, the first thing to do is to look at world history, or at least French History. And to do that, you must look at the wars they've been involved in, why, and how they turned out.
Here's a paraphrased (and modified) version of an internet joke that explains things, it goes something like this:
- Galic wars; Lost.
- Hundred years war; Lost on duration alone (as explained by the name).
- Italian Wars: Lost.
- Huguenots: Lost.
- Dutch War: Tied.
- French Indian War: Lost.
- Spanish Succession: Lost.
- American Revolutions: Lost. They let everyone else do the fighting, and just tried to take credit at the end. (Setting a precident for future French Conflicts).
- French Revolution: Lost. (Just look at the state of their country today).
- Napoleonic Wars: Lost, and temporary victories.
- Franco-Prussian War: Lost.
- WWI: Lost -- until the U.S. saves their bacon.
- WWII: Lost -- until the U.S. saves their bacon.
- Vietnam: Lost -- and left the U.S. with their mess.
- Algeria: Lost -- and they demonstrated their compassion towards their fellow man.
Now not only did they lose, but it is who they lost to, and how (and how badly).
In almost every case, their brief victories only happened when they were lead by someone of a foreign country, and better if they were psychtzophrenic, and sometimes both.
I mean the French have such fantastic credits as to have been the only European country in modern times to ever lose to the Italians; and they managed to do it twice. They also managed to be the only European Country in a thousand (or more) years to lose to a Muslim country.
Now if you think the French are unaware of their history, you'd be wrong. Why else would a country:
- build the Arch of Capitulation, and then misname in the "Arc de Triomphe" to try to rewrite history?
- make their Parisian/National symbol is a giant phallic tower (glans and all), all to try to make up for their impotence and the worlds largest case of penis envy.
- their most famous military leaders are the man that embodied the term "Napolean Complex" and some schizophrenic cross-dressing chick who inspired the French to fight... so they gave her to the enemy to be burned at the stake for the obvious witchcraft required to teach the french courage.
The French are all too aware of their own shortcomings, which is why they spend so much time trying to cover it up, rewrite history, and attack anyone who has behaved better than them (which is just about everyone). Thus their only true allies can ever be those who are weaker than them, and behave worse.
Really, think about that. The emasculating impotence of your own history, combined with national arrogance trying to cover self-loathing. The French know they they can not control thier own destiny. Their only victories were by teaming up with those bigger and more courageous than themselves. And they always think they can outsmart their partners, and their partners (usually Germany) ends up eating them. Enter the EU.
So I love the French. I love my French friends. The world would be a lot less interesting without them, their style, art, language, and culture. Many of them are smart as individuals, and liven up a conversation. I love them. But get over 100 of them together, and they are the most incompetent and annoying little shits to ever grace the planet. They're one of only a few countries more arrogant than the U.S., but without any of the justification for that arrogance.
There was a perfect summary of the geopolitics of France done by Stratfor back in 2003. This next bit highlights some of that:
French Distrust.... so they believe stabbing others in the back is justified. (Needs allies and resents them).
By itself, [France] cannot control its destiny; it must be part of something greater. But in being part of something greater, the temptation to make that large thing uniquely French strains the edifice. Without that impulse, however, France's nightmare comes to the fore -- saving itself by losing itself to something more important than France.
Therefore, France behaves in a completely predictable fashion. It will resist the United States vigorously, seeking to limit its global, hegemonic power. It will seek to build coalitions with other nations. However, because it reserves the right to pursue its own national self-interest, the coalitions tend to dissolve -- leaving France to face the United States impotently or to pursue its national self-interest and make its peace with the United States
For France, Iraq represents two national interests. First, it has direct national interests in Iraq -- oil, defense and other markets. Second, and more important, France understands that a U.S. occupation of Iraq would shift the global balance of power even more in the favor of the United States. It is therefore in the French national interest to resist. At the same time, all-out resistance is impossible. By the nature of its foreign policy, France finds it difficult to hold together coalitions. Standing alone, France cannot resist the United States, nor can it resist a rupture with the United States.
France will resist the United States with all of its might -- but recognizing the limits of its might, it ultimately will capitulate, formally or informally. France will carry out its policies on multiple levels -- opposing on one, cooperating on another. It will appear to be perfidious, as the current term would have it, but it is simply torn in multiple directions, torn by competing geography, dreams and nightmares. France will move very quickly in many directions during any crisis. In the end, it will wind up where it began. France appears insufferable, but it is merely trapped by geography and history.While that was written about Iraq, it applies much broader than that.