The Editorial page of the Webmaster: Europe and the rest of the World (#4)

WARNING : On this website, I am trying to give balanced points of view BUT, as a Frenchman, I have my own strong personal opinions. I don't know if they are representative but they are mine. If you hate my comments read about Americans and criticism. See also my resume.


Read Rochefort's "Diary of an old student"

About the war in Iraq : it reminds me of the Algerian war in the 1950s and what was called the "Bataille d'Alger" : the French army won it but lost the war ; never humiliate people, especially Arabs who have a lot of pride. Unfortunately, the American war turned the way we had predicted it would : a total disaster and more hate against America. We too had our stupid war (and even more than one) and the Americans should have listened to their French friends... Regarding what the people of this region might think from bringing democracy and freedom through an invasion, I'd just like to quote Donald Rumsfeld in 2003 ("contrary to many armies in the world, the US did not come to conquer and occupy but to liberate"), British General F.S.Maude in Iraq in 1917 ("our armies do not come in your cities and in your countries as conquerors or ennemies but as liberators") or Napoleon in Egypt in 1798 ("we come to restore your rights and punish usurpers"). Three years after the beginning of this absurd invasion, we can evaluate the soundness of this policy. It is always useful to study history... And now, what about what was said about France and the French in 2003 (cowards, ungrateful, traitors,...) and all this good wine stupidly spilled down American gutters... I do not expect to read in the American press anything like "We should have listened to the (d... )French instead of insulting them..." but still, it would be kind of fair-play... An American reader wrote to the Internationa Herald Tribune (Feb.17, 2007) : "Now that the majority of the American people have spoken out against the war in Iraq and Congress has come to the same conclusion, isn't it about time someone has the courtesy to apologize to France and President Jacques Chirac ? We Americans were not supposed to eat French fries or drink Bordeaux, and we were told the French were traitors. Certainly someone in the government should come out and say we were mistaken". (2007)

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About the so-called Islamic State ... Why did the French government decide to officially use the term "Daesh" when the terrorists in Syria and Iraq call themselves "Islamic State" (ISIS) ? In France, ihis is considered a very important wording issue : ISIS must not be treated as a "state". Why? First, because "the Islamic State" is not "a state" : it is not located in a specific country of its own by a specific people. It is a group of terrorists coming from Syria, Iraq and various countries all over the world whose purpose is to carve a country for themselves out of two existing ones, Syria and Iraq. Why is it dangerous to call it a state? Because, their objective is to reconstitute a caliphate in this country if they succeed. A caliphate is the concept by which a spiritual leader in a country becomes a spiritual AND political leader for all Muslim countries and therefore a geopolitical leader of a population of hundreds of million. This role has been played, since the days of Mohammed, by a succession of caliphs who dominated the Arab world and, for centuries attacked Europe and conquered and occupied a large part of it (Spain and the Balkans). The caliphate disappeared with the Ottoman Empire in 1924. Re-establishing it would give incredible power to people whose proclaimed aim is to destroy Western civilization and install an Islamic domination all over the world. This is not an exaggeration : it is literally what they declare every day. By calling them Islamic "State" we implicitly admit that they have succeeded in creating a state where they are free to re-establish the caliphate. US media and politicians should re-read history before they use the word. Wording is important (remember George W. Bush calling for a "crusade", which was a major political mistake that infuriated the Arab world). (Nov.2015).`

More about Islam in France.








Good news for Europe : UK steps out! In the midst of the Euro crisis (Dec.2011), a very timid step toward a more efficient Euro zone coordinating the financial policy of the member states has been voted by 26 countries, the 27th one, the United KIngdom, which is not a member of the Euro zone, voting against it. This is good news. There is no doubt that, culturally, Britain is a European country : we share Shakespeare, Goethe, Molière, Cervantes and many others. There is no doubt either that politically and psychologically it is not. When the British refer to Europe, they do not refer to themselves, they mean what is in the other side of the Channel. The proportion of British citizens who think that UK should opt out has always been between two thirds and three quarters. OK, this is their choice. At the same time, the other European countries are painfully trying to build what will be, one day, a confederation. They started with a free trade zone (Marché Commun, 1958) : UK created a rival zone (European Free Trade Association, 1960). Then UK decided to be inside the EC and control it so it would be only to its benefit (remember Margaret Thatcher and "I want my money back"). For many European common projects, the British strategy is always the same : they refuse to participate in it at the beginning and step onboard only if it works and then they negotiate their contribution as low as possible. In the European institutions, the British quota is filled with competent civil servants. They certainly believe in the future of Europe but no doubt they serve the future of their country first. An example : Lady Ashton, the first High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, certainly did not do anything that would hurt the British policy (in fact she did no do anything at all : this is why she was proposed by her government). Therefore, instead of being inside and making the life of the other countries even more complicated (they do not need that...), isn't it better to be nicely out ? Europe (as they call it) would have nice and friendly relations with the UK, as a close foreign partner, like the USA. I understand that trying to build a federation out of 27 countries is no fun (the UK was the best supporter of Turkey and pushed hard to increase the number of members, in order to weaken it : good shot!). We'll try to build a confederate Europe without the ambiguity of having one of us constantly pushing backward because its citizens do not want it. For me, it will be an improvement and it will not change my profound and sincere admiration of the UK and its people. No kidding! (December 2011).

Read about BREXIT.

To related pages : other editorial pages  France and the French (1), USA and Americans, Franco-American relations and France and the French (2), current events in France, to speeches by Philippe Rochefort, a Paris Diary, about the webmaster, my family website and its genealogy pages

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For more on intercultural differences, order Harriet Welty Rochefort's books :

  • "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001

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