France’s resistance to U.S. policy on Iraq, capped off by its role in blocking U.S.-backed plans to bolster Turkish defenses against a possible Iraqi missile attack, is resulting in a massive outpouring of U.S. anger against France, evidenced by the 1,124 angry calls received by the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., in just one day.
Coming in the wake of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the U.N. on Iraq, the embassy felt under siege, reports the Scotsman newspaper.
“It never stopped. It was crazy. Unbelievable,” said one French diplomat.
Although the embassy’s Nathalie Loiseau notes that some letters and e-mail are supportive of Paris’ position, she admits in a Financial Times report that some “would like to boycott France and French products.”
With some U.S. talk radio shows openly calling for repatriation of America’s war dead, noted the Scotsman, the phrase “if it weren’t for us you’d be speaking German” has become a popular refrain.
“The French attitude is self-defeating,” says Gary Schmitt of the Project for a New American Century, said the report. “They are undermining the credibility of the U.N. and now throwing NATO into disarray. I don’t know if they realize how they’re also causing a split in Europe. If you total up all the things they are interested in, you find that they’re making a hash of all of them.”
Meanwhile, as WorldNetdaily reported this week, France was found to be more unpopular among Americans now than at any time in the past decade in a new Gallup poll. Unfavorable opinions of France have jumped 17 points in the past year while favorable opinions have dropped 20 points.
American attitudes toward Germany, another European power unwilling to support the U.S. on Iraq, also have become more negative, according to the annual Gallup Poll Social Series Update on World Affairs, conducted Feb. 3-6.
In its editorial yesterday the Washington Post argued that France and Germany now “behave as if they share the same over-riding goal as the Iraqi dictator: thwarting U.S. action even when it is supported by most other NATO and European nations.”
Great Britain ranked at the top of the list of 26 nations with a +83 percent favorable rating, while Iraq rounded off the bottom with a -85 percent score. Iran and North Korea, the other two nations identified by President Bush as comprising the “axis of evil,” joined Iraq at bottom of the list.
The White House yesterday scoffed at Paris’s offer to fortify U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq after President Bush complained he was “disappointed” with France’s refusal to cooperate with NATO.
The Bush administration’s exasperation with Paris is affecting public perception, reported the Financial Times, noting as an example the New York Post’s coverage of the international dispute. The paper ran a picture of WWII American soldiers’ graves near Omaha Beach Monday, headlined: “They died for France but France has forgotten.”
New York Post reporter Steve Dunleavy, depicted near the grave of a young American soldier, wrote: “The air is chilled, but I feel an unnatural glow of rage — I want to kick the collective butts of France. These kids died to save the French from a tyrant named Adolf Hitler. And now, as more American kids are poised to fight and die to save the world from an equally vile tyrant, Saddam Hussein, where are the French? Hiding. Chickening out. Proclaiming, Vive les wimps!”
Presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer said yesterday that French President Jacques Chirac hadn’t mentioned France’s intention to block Turkey’s request for NATO assistance during his meeting last week with Bush. He claimed Bush didn’t feel exactly “blindsided,” but rather “disappointed at the “setback” for both NATO and Turkey.
Clinton administration deputy national security adviser Jim Steinberg says anti-French feeling is increasing in the U.S., according to the Financial Times. Concerned that it could get worse, Steinberg added: “The next two weeks are going to have a profound impact on transatlantic relations. There is a consensus that whatever the U.S. has done wrong, it does not justify the way the French and the Germans are playing this.”