France: A One Way Friendship

Alright. I need to get something off my chest. This might make me a jerk - so be it.

Statue of Liberty racing toward Paris to help
From the Arizona Republic
It's horrible what happened in Paris. Innocent lives were lost seemingly to the hands of an evil organization that values things I cannot begin to understand.

But let's not pretend our relationship with France is a two-way street. We matter to France when it's convenient to matter to France.

France is the neighbor that calls you to come hang out the day they're moving so you'll help pack boxes. Then, when it's time to return the favor - they don't answer the phone.

In the wake of the Al Qaida September 11 attacks in the United States, Americans looked for help. We knew there was evil in the far reaches of the world and we needed to root it out. It was going to take a lot of money and a lot of lives.

We started to build a coalition of nations that would support the effort. France wasn't very interested.

Our nation didn't react well. With "freedom fries" and other assinine bans of anything resembling France, we certainly showed American pettiness.

But France didn't respond well either. I was in Paris in the spring of 2003 and Americans were largely viewed as war-mongering, oil-hungry aggressors. There were protests on the streets against the United States' war effort. It wasn't a comfortable place for Americans.


French citizens protesting against the U.S. war in Iraq in 2002.
Many American tourists, myself included claimed to be Canadian to avoid harsh treatment in France in 2002.
In the years since, the terrorist organizations have made strong efforts to draw France in and today, there is a significant French presence in Syria with coalition forces. But let's not kid ourselves. France is in this for France and once again is treating the United States as a friend of convenience.

Since American military operations started in Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 - the United States has lost nearly 2,300 young men and women in an effort to stop the power of terrorist groups.

France has lost 88 service members.

We won't even dive in to the amount of fiscal support the United States has laid out trying to protect the planet from the monsters leading ISIS and Al Qaida.

There was a lot of talk that France would join the U.S. with a significant presence in Iraq. However, Jacques Chiraq (then French Prime Minister) backed down when relations "soured with George W. Bush". France went from a commitment of 15,000-20,000 troops to passing support and what was essentially a neutral stance on our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"After inspectors appeared to make progress in Iraq, Chirac's thinking changed, especially after polls in France showed vast opposition to an attack." - Washington Post.
Now, France finds itself a victim once again. Is it because they didn't provide more resources to fight this war on terrorism in the first place? No. Not at all.

But let's not pretend for one second that France has been a true partner in this fight since Day 1. France has let us spill our blood, spend our money, and develop the reputation as World Police while they sat back and let us do it --- all while criticizing the American policies in the Middle East.

San Francisco City Hall lit up in support of France
City Hall in San Francisco lit up in support of France

So now, when I see garbage posted like "We all stand with Paris", I have to laugh. Sure, we stand with Paris but when the Twin Towers were burning, it got awfully tough to find someone in France that was willing to stand with us in a way that mattered.

By the way, thanks for the Statue of Liberty. I guess since the United States contributed more than 400,000 lives saving France and other Allies in World War II, we're even.

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