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How about stopping French bashing?
The reasons why the French said "No" to war, and why you shouldn't be mad at them for it.
By Juliette Hauville April 07, 2003

I know most people don't give a damn what I think, but I will tell it anyway. Anytime there is something of any importance going on in the world, I want the world to know what I think of it. A war is probably important enough.

I will tell you all of my weak points first, so you can decide right away if you don't want to bother reading me. I am 17. I'm a senior in an American High School. And I'm a French foreign exchange student. Now that you know how partial I probably am, I tell you why I'm worth reading. I've been interested in politics for years. My country's politics first, but then I understood that in the 20th century more than ever, it's not worth anything anymore to look only in your country. The last, but not least, reason why you might want to read me is that I've been living in the US for over seven months. I've been hearing American news for seven months. And I've done my homework carefully, and read French news as well, as my teachers told me to. Therefore, I know all the stories for two completely different points of view.

***

I've been living French bashing first hand for a few months. I heard people talking about "Freedom fries" and "Freedom toast" and ordering them at McDonald's. I read articles in the newspapers that drove me insane, because they were talking about "childish French". I read on this very website that if you don't support Bush, you support Saddam.

PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!! Stop being stupid! For heaven's sake, the world is not black and white (I wish it were; life would be so much easier). I hate Saddam with a passion, and I do think that the world would be a better place if he was dead.

If you think you're hurting the French by talking about "Freedom toast and fries", please stop fooling yourself. Fries and toast are not anymore French than I'm an American. I had to come to America to eat French toast for the first time!

The thing that drives me insane is when I hear that France should be grateful for the Americans to have come in World War II. I am grateful. I know what I'm talking about. I'm from Normandy. Every year, I go on the D-Day beaches. I look at all those people who are buried there, who never made it back to their country. And guys, you know what? I feel so proud of them. And then I'm ashamed of myself, because I don't think I deserve all those guys - some of them were just my age - dying for me. Dying right on the sand I'm walking on. I am grateful.

However, you can't just take the parts you like in History and leave the rest alone. You guys did save Europe. But you didn't do it because Europe called for you. You came into the war because of Pearl Harbor. And you came after a few million Europeans were already dead. So far, how many Americans died? If ever you can link Saddam to Al-Qaeda, 3000, plus the soldiers who died in Iraq.

Talking about Al-Qaeda, let's remembers 9-11. I'm pretty sure every single person on this planet remembers where they were when it happened and when they first heard about it. When it happened, I was in France, it was about 3 pm. My sister called home to tell us that two planes had made the twin towers collapse. First thing I did was to turn on TV. I sat there until 11pm. I cried. I hated Osama Bin Laden. I wanted him to get caught and to pay for what he had done. I wanted him to kneel in front of every orphan, widow, widower, parent, sibling, and I wanted him to tell them he was the worst jerk ever and he was the scum of the Earth. And then I thought "If I think that, how must the Americans feel?" So when the government of France said that they would help America in any way possible, I was proud. And when Bush accepted only British help, I was disappointed that France didn't get the chance to explain to those guys that you can't kill 3000 people and get away with it. But then, I thought "Bush probably knows what he's doing. He has an entire country who wants those guys, if he needed us, he would tell."

You guys had the entire world with you. You had France with you just a year ago. Not my fault if you screwed it all.

Why do French (and not only French by the way, why do you keep attacking the French?) think you screwed it all? Simply because they think there were better ways than war to solve the different problems.

Problem 1: War on terrorism.

Most people don't blame you at all you for the war in Afghanistan; you did what you had the right to do. Those guys killed 3000 Americans, and you didn't blindly kill 3000 other people. You targeted the guys who deserve it. The only regret I have about the war on terrorism is that nobody caught Osama. That's really too bad.

Where my problem with war on terrorism starts is that almost nothing was done beside military actions. You know what could really stop terrorists? You know what could stop Osama from recruiting? Imagine yourself a 21 year-old not-American boy. Someone comes to you and tells you that Americans are jerks and they should all die. Then, they tell you Al-Qaeda fights Americans, and they would like you to help them on the fight. What could stop you from doing it? Knowing for a fact that Americans are not jerks. Knowing that the jerk is the guy talking to you right now. So let's find ways that this boy knows that Americans are not jerks: what about building a hospital in which the guy's daughter or son is cured and putting an American flag on it? What about building the school in which he would learn to read and tell him that Americans paid for it? What about giving food to his little sister who is starving because she didn't have the chance to be born in America or Europe where most of the population has food every day? And what about making this world wide, more than in just a few places to give you a good conscience?

You know what is amazing? You can do it. If 10% of the United States' military budget was given to countries, world starvation would be stopped. And the world would love the United States. I do know that the US are already the country that give the most money to international funds, but as a percentage of the total money they have, well, the US are the last country in the list among developed countries. You guys are powerful, we know it. It would be great if you could be powerful and kind.

Problem 2: War on Iraq

This is the real problem. I don't doubt a second that Bush probably knows more than me about chemical weapons in Iraq. I don't doubt a second that what he knows is probably top secret. But you can't blame me - you can't blame anybody - for refusing to blindly follow someone just because he might know more than you. If it was only me, I might not even mind, but he obviously didn't tell anything to my president. If he had given actual proof to Chirac that there are chemical weapons, if he had done more than saying he knew it, we would have followed you. Should I follow a country because they once were my allies? Oh, no. Just as a reminder, a few decades ago, Iraq was an ally of the US. Do you trust them more now because they once helped you?

The French are also mad because the US ignored the UN. I know the UN is not a world government (I wish it were, though), but the US are part of it. They signed papers. They are in the Security Council, so they should be even more responsible, show good example. Not remember the UN when you like it and forget it when you don't like what they're telling you. A single example: Israel violated a lot more UN resolutions than Iraq, but I don't remember the US ever talking of attacking them. Also, the US used its veto a lot more than France, and I don't remember France starting bashing like what is going now at any time.

Now that I told you why France is acting like that, you can start to laugh and say how stupid I am, and that after all, I'm just a High School student, who cares? Go ahead. Keep trying to erase France from America. Talk about Freedom fries and Freedom toast all that you want. Make fun of me. Stop buying French products. Pour French wine in the street. Oh, yeah, you can also burn your constitution and the stars and stripes if you feel like it, since as I remember, without French help, you would never have become a country.

Copyright © 2003 by Juliette Hauville


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