To the Editor:
Mr. Hodgson's view of historical U.S.-French relations (Godfrey Hodgson, "'Great Vote, Grisly Result': Europe's Reaction to the Reelection of George Bush," WPJ, winter 2004/05) misses the central fact that these two nations were never "married" in the first place. Therefore, this "old couple" could not possibly be headed for a divorce. Instead, a brief account of French-American relations indicate two countries separated by common values, who have been, and continue to be, competitors during important international events. Consequently, U.S. policymakers and foreign policy experts should be focusing on how to secure American national interests and global leadership. History has shown France has the same goals of global leadership as the United States, but not the same will or means to accomplish this goal. This results in obstructionism, envy, and in recent times, the ill-fated manipulations by France during the lead up to the war in Iraq.
In contrast to Higonnet's belief that U.S.-French relations soured during the 1840s, the facts prove otherwise. During the American Revolution, the government of France actively conspired against American interests, despite offering aid, as any reading of the interactions between the Comte de Vergennes, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin will show. Republicans and Federalists lined up for and against England and France during the first days of the U.S. republic. Despite the assistance that France gave to the United States during the Revolution, President Washington maintained a policy of neutrality when France declared war on England during the days of the French Revolution. It should be recalled that Washington fought the French during the French and Indian War. During the presidencies of Washington and Adams, the Citizen Genet and XYZ Affair shook the very foundations of the fledging U.S. government and nation. Mr. Genet had the temerity to challenge President Washington's power, and broke all diplomatic conventions.
During the First World War there was considerable tension between General Foch and General...