You can't beat the French when it comes to food, fashion, wine or perfume,
but they lost their license to have an opinion on world affairs years ago.
They may even be selling stuff to Iraq and don't want to hurt business.
The French are simply not reliable partners in a world where the good people
in it ought to be working together. Americans may come off as international
jerks sometimes but we're usually trying to do the right thing.
The French lost WW II to the Germans in about 20 minutes. Along with the
British, we got into the war and had about 150,000 guys killed getting their
country back for them. We fought all across France, and the Germans finally
surrendered in a French schoolhouse. You'd think that school building in
Reims would be a great tourist attraction but it isn't. The French seem
embarrassed by it. They don't want to call attention to the fact that we
freed them from German occupation.
I heard Steven Spielberg say the French wouldn't even let him film the D-Day
scenes in "Saving Private Ryan" on the Normandy beaches. They want people to
forget the price we paid getting their country back for them.
Americans have a right to protest going to war with Iraq. The French do not.
They owe us the independence they flaunt in our face at the U.N.
I went into Paris with American troops the day we liberated it, Aug. 25,
1944. It was one of the great days in the history of the world. French women
showered American soldiers with kisses, at the very least. The next day, the
pompous Charles de Gaulle marched down the mile long Champs Elysee to the
Place de la Concorde as if he had liberated France himself. I was there,
squeezed in among a hundred tanks we'd given the Free French Army that we
brought in with us. Suddenly there were sniper shots from the top of a
building. Thousands of Frenchmen who had come to see de Gaulle scrambled to
get under something. I got under an Army truck myself. The tank gunners
opened fire on the building where the shots had come from, firing mindlessly
at nothing. It was a wild scene that lasted, maybe, 10 minutes.
When we go to Paris every couple of years now, I rent a car. I drive around
the Place de la Concorde and when some French driver blows his horn for me
to get out of his way, I just smile and say to myself, "Go ahead, Pierre. Be
my guest. I know something about this very place you'll never know."
The French have not earned their right to have an opinion about President
Bush's plans to attack Iraq.
On the other hand, I have.
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