May 08, 2003

Lafayette, Vous Etiez Ici

Jack Balkin has two French jokes:

Balkinization:

American to Frenchman: "Do you speak German?"
Frenchman: "No."
American: "You're welcome."

Come on, that's funny, guys. And here's another one I'm sure you'll enjoy equally well:

Frenchman to American: "Are you a subject of Her Majesty Elizabeth II?
American: "No."
Frenchman: "You're welcome."

The second is especially funny to those of us who know more history than Tom DeLay does, especially the history of Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de la Fayette.

Posted by DeLong at May 8, 2003 10:15 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Unfortunately, the current French political leadership, one that was willing to appease a regime much worse than that of George III, has little in common with those unilateralist warmongers Admiral de Grasse and Generals Rochambeau and la Fayette.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson on May 8, 2003 10:50 PM

The first one is also pretty insulting to 350,000 British/Australian/Canadian/New Zealand and other Commonwealth/Empire countries' dead. Did their deaths not matter?

It seems a common theme -- see Bush's ludicrous carrier speech -- that Americans believe only they fight wars, and only the suffer casualties, and only they are important.

Posted by: Matthew on May 8, 2003 11:55 PM

Unlikely scenario:

American to Frenchman: "Sprechen sie Deutsch?"

(Old joke: if you speak two languages, you're bilingual. If you speak three, you're trilingual. If you only speak one, you're American.)

Didn't the Russians have something to do with WWII?

Posted by: bad Jim on May 9, 2003 12:38 AM

"Didn't the Russians have something to do with WWII?"

Shhhh, can't mention that the Russians were all pushing the Germans back by D-Day.

Of course, "Do you speak Russian" works just as well in that case, albeit a bit too drawn out to work as a joke.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on May 9, 2003 01:58 AM

Yes, we Americans do owe a great debt to the Bourbons. Whatever happened to them, anyway?

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek on May 9, 2003 04:00 AM

Well, Paul, the French do owe a debt to US WWII veterans. Not to the present generation of americans, and certainly not to George 'Protected Texas from the Cuban Air Force' W Bush. And certainly not to the standard issue GOP politician, who tended to have 'other priorities'.

Posted by: Barry on May 9, 2003 05:12 AM

Come on, you know what deLay would say about a man named "Marie" ...

Posted by: JM on May 9, 2003 05:23 AM

Granted all of this is quite silly.
But there is no equivalence:

1. The French role in the American War
of Independence was not pivotal. In
particular Lafayette's contribution was
minor. DeGrasse's fleet at Yorktown was
a key part of this major American victory
and the Washington's army did receive some
funds fron the French, but that's about it.

The British didn't have a major victory
after the Battle of Long Island in 1777
(except perhaps a raid of Philadelphia).

The British were just marking time, spending
the King's treasure with no strategy for victory.

Everytime the British ventured too far from NY, they got mauled either in Saratoga or in the Carolinas. The British never even dared go near New England after 1776. Neither Washington, Lafayette, nor the French had anything to do with that.

It is true that de Gasse's fleet shortened the war and saved many American lives which is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't compare to the US role in WWII.

It's also true the Russians played a big role in
WWII but without the US, the French would be
speaking German or Russian... take your pick.

2. Almost no Frenchmen died in the American War
of Independence. Lots of Americans died to free France. I don't know the figures but I would guess that the US had more military causalties in the European theater than the French did.

3. The loss of utility that the average American
would have if he/she were a subject of the Queen is incomparably less than the French would have suffered from a longer occupation by the Nazis or Soviets.

4. The French were helping the Americans to advance their own anti-British agenda. As other comments in the blog have pointed out, it's hard to see what altruism was involved in Bourbon absolutists aiding a democratic movement. While the American role in WWII, did have a realpolitick aspect to it, most in the US also embraced it as a moral cause.

But I realize I'm taking this all too seriously.

Posted by: Jonathan Carmel on May 9, 2003 06:51 AM

The French recognition of the United States as a country served to legitimize their status with other European countries...not to mention that their money kept a darn nearly bankrupt army from having to fold...I think that's pretty good help, don't you?

Posted by: Emma on May 9, 2003 07:03 AM

Let's take the premise of the DeLay "joke" that if you're conquered by a country you end up speaking their language.

So why do English people speak English and not French or Dutch?

Posted by: P O'Neill on May 9, 2003 07:09 AM

Well, we certainly don't speak bloody Anglo-Saxon...

Posted by: Richard Johnston on May 9, 2003 07:11 AM

I'd say the one really remarkable thing
that we owe the French for is the Statue
of Liberty.

The Statue of Liberty is perhaps the icon
that most personifies America... and Americans
weren't involved in making it. I think this
is extraordinary.

To be snide, I could say the French make
the statue and we make the liberty.

Posted by: Jonathan Carmel on May 9, 2003 07:15 AM

Would it really be so terrible if we were subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? Wouldn't we have just been granted independence later like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.? Sure, we'd have a parliamentary government instead of the wacky presidential model and probably a somewhat more centralized version of federalism, but it just doesn't seem like that big a deal to me.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias on May 9, 2003 07:36 AM

The French role in the American Revolutionary War was not pivital???

Answer this. Whose fleet was at Yorktown? How many French soldiers were at Yorktown? How many Americans were at Yorktow?
To whom did the British want to surrender, the French or the Americans?
Why did they surrender to the Americans?
How many Revolutionary War battles did General George Washington win? How many did he lose.

All countries have their own creation myths.

Posted by: bakho on May 9, 2003 07:36 AM

Sorry bakho. You have things backward:
The American creation myth is that the victory by Washington and the French in the persona of Lafayette was pivotal. This is what is taught in American elementary and secondary schools.

That myth was key to the glorification of
Washington (who I think is a great man
but his role in the War of Independence was
mythologized).

What I'm describing is not part of the myth
taught in American secondary schools.

Of course, the British would surrender to the
French. There's more dignity in losing to the
French than the Americans and the British
didn't recognize the Americans as a legitimate
army.

Second, I granted that the French were pivotal
at Yorktown... I don't know how many soldiers
they had. You tell me. But the point is that
Yorktown was not pivotal.

Washington didn't have any major victories
(other than Yorktown where I'm happy to grant
that the French navy was the key.) But Washington didn't have to have any victories.

The Americans controlled essentially all of the
the colonies in revolt except for Manhattan.

The American controlled all of New England, including Boston from 1776 without any interference from the British (except naval blockade). The Americans controlled Philadelphia
and they controlled all the countryside.

The British held Manhattan... that's essentially it.

American victory depended on outlasting the British who were spending a tremendous amount of money on their military forces in America and preventing the British from retaking control of the continent.

There was no need for Washington or the Americans to draw the British into a major battle and defeat them.

Quite the opposite. The British had the superior army. It was up to them to create circumstances that would force the Americans into a major battle where the superior British forces could destroy the rebel army.

It wasn't up to Washington to generate victories.
That was the requirement of the British. It was up to Washington to avoid defeats.

As I said in my previous post, the British were singularly unsuccessful in retaking the continent. Any time the British ventured far from NYC, they got pummeled.

These pummelings were not by Washington's army but local militia. Nathaniel Greene had driven Cornwallis's forces out of the Carolinas which is why they ended up at Yorktown hoping for resupply from the British navy. Similarly Saratoga was a major American victory. Once again Washington was not a part of that either. But instead it was due to local rebel forces.

Posted by: Jonathan Carmel on May 9, 2003 08:12 AM

Brad what does etiez mean? I took French for 6 years, and I can't remember seeing Etiez

Posted by: Bobby on May 9, 2003 08:43 AM

Well, let's not forget that the American contribution in World War II, while critical, wasn't exactly timely. Hell, we didn't even declare war on the Germans until AFTER they declared war on us.

I'd say the French have an obligation to help the U.S. . . . after they have been attacked by the nation that has occupied America for some four years. Not a moment before.

Posted by: jlw on May 9, 2003 08:48 AM

I love the suggestion that our goal in WW2 was to free France.

I love the suggestion that the US was morally visionary in WW2. Especially from 9/39 to 12/41.

I love the suggestion that France was marginal to our Revolutionary victory. Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams didn't seem to see it that way, but then they weren't brilliant, as our current leadership surely is.

I love (most of all) the suggestion that our victory in the Revolution was nearly irrelevant. I know Matthew is vaguely on my side in this discussion, but, please.

How far will the War Party go to justify their pettiness? Is there any fact of history they will not twist (or ignore) in their desperate bid to shore up their position? Judging by this thread - no.

Posted by: JRoth on May 9, 2003 08:58 AM

I love the suggestion that the doves on
Iraq would have been hawks on Germany in
1939.

I love the suggestion that my comments are
motivated by pettiness. As I said in a previous post, I think it is remarkable that the French gave us the Statue of Liberty. I also said that the French Navy at Yorktown shortened the war and saved American lives. I'm willing to give credit where credit is due.

But Washington, Lafayette, and Yorktown were not pivotal to the American victory. The inability of the British to successfully operate outside of Manhattan was. This isn't something made up to win Iraq War debating points over.

I agree that America's actions in WWII were
tardy. I view it to be a disgrace that the
US did not stand up to Hitler prior to the
Pearl Harbor. But as I hawk, I'm confident
I would have been on the right side in the 1930's.

However, one does have to remember that Japan, not Germany, had attacked the US. There was a questions as to how much resources should be devoted to the European versus Japanese theaters.

The US chose to give priority to Germany even though Germany did not pose an immediate threat and Japan had attacked US territory and taken US possessions.

I'm glad that the US gave attention to Germany. I wish the US had stood with the UK and France in 1939.

Part of the allocation of resources was realpolitick and part was altruism.

I grant these jokes are silly.
So is the notion that France's role in
the American War of Independence is equivalent
in importance to the US role in WWII or that
a Bourbon absolutist was motivated by altruism
to the US to even a minute extent.

Posted by: Jonathan Carmel on May 9, 2003 09:27 AM

Johnathan Carmel writes: "1. The French role in the American War
of Independence was not pivotal. In
particular Lafayette's contribution was
minor. DeGrasse's fleet at Yorktown was
a key part of this major American victory
and the Washington's army did receive some
funds fron the French, but that's about it."

Lafayette was minor. Rochambeau's 6-8000 strong expeditionary force was the anvil to Washington's hammer during the siege of Yorktown. Some funds? Lots of funds, and lots of those very nice .69 caliber muskets, plus artillery, plus ammunition for said ironmongery. Not to mention the severly annoying distraction provided by French military operations against the British in other theaters. Add to that the participation in the war by the Spanish and Dutch - who were egged on by French diplomacy.

"The British didn't have a major victory
after the Battle of Long Island in 1777
(except perhaps a raid of Philadelphia)."

Now that is just flat wrong. The loss of Charleston in 1780 was a terrible body-blow to the Continentals. Nathaniel Greene lost several field battles to Cornwallis during the Southern Campaign immediately preceding Yorktown. Admittedy, it was Greene who held the field when the dust settled and Cornwallis withdrew to Virginia to resupply and regroup. Nathaniel Greene - probably the most unsung of the USA's Great Captains clearly outmaneuvered Cornwallis, but I think even Greene himself admitted that Cornwallis had outfought him.

"The British were just marking time, spending
the King's treasure with no strategy for victory. "

Full agreement, until COrnwallis came along. He had a clear vision of what he needed to do. It may not have been the right plan, but it was a plan. Unfortunately for him the British Command group up in New York was a strong contender for the 18th century Clueless award.

"Everytime the British ventured too far from NY, they got mauled either in Saratoga or in the Carolinas. The British never even dared go near New England after 1776. Neither Washington, Lafayette, nor the French had anything to do with that."

Of course they did. The large concentrations of "conventional" combat power represented by Washington and Rochambeau, coupled with the swarms of rebel partisans in New England presented the British with the same woeful dilemma faced by the French in Spain. If you concentrate your forces to counter the large field armies facing you, the partisans can run wild. But if you disperse your troops to suppress the partisans, then the enemy field forces can punch right past your pickets and do some wild running themselves.

"It is true that de Gasse's fleet shortened the war and saved many American lives which is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't compare to the US role in WWII."

I might agree with the last clause of that statement, but not in the direction you intend.

"2. Almost no Frenchmen died in the American War
of Independence. Lots of Americans died to free France. I don't know the figures but I would guess that the US had more military causalties in the European theater than the French did."

That greatly depends on whether you count casualties among French partisan groups to be military casualties.

"4. The French were helping the Americans to advance their own anti-British agenda. As other comments in the blog have pointed out, it's hard to see what altruism was involved in Bourbon absolutists aiding a democratic movement. While the American role in WWII, did have a realpolitick aspect to it, most in the US also embraced it as a moral cause."

I think that the personal popularity of Benjamin Franklin was a pivotal factor. "A" factor, not "the" factor. And there was indeed quite a bit of cognitive dissonance involved, yes.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on May 9, 2003 09:30 AM

"Come on, you know what deLay would say about a man named "Marie" ..."

Whatever deLay would say I'm sure he would say the exact opposite when a democrat is in the White House.

Washington is a great man for two reasons: He kept the army together and the bigger reason - he stepped down from the presidency when he could have easily declared himself king. What other statesman has accomplished something of that magnitude?

Posted by: Dan on May 9, 2003 09:35 AM

Matthew Yglesias writes: Would it really be so terrible if we were subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? Wouldn't we have just been granted independence later like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.? Sure, we'd have a parliamentary government instead of the wacky presidential model and probably a somewhat more centralized version of federalism, but it just doesn't seem like that big a deal to me."

I would argue, and lost of Real Historians have argued, that Canada etc. were granted independence so painlessly because the British were powerful fond of not going through anything like the American War of Independence again.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on May 9, 2003 09:36 AM

Brad,

This is at once ridiculous and extremely insulting to the British. Are you trying to say that life under British rule would have been in any way comparable to life under Adolf Hitler and his successors? How different is life for Canadians or Australians from how it is in America anyway? If America had remained under British rule, African-Americans would certainly have been emancipated a lot earlier, so in at least a few respects American independence proved a loss for human welfare. The same cannot be said for the emancipation of France.

I think you're letting your Europhilia and dislike of George Bush get in the way of your reason. The fact is that France owes a gigantic debt of gratitude to Britain and America for coming to her rescue twice in the 20th century (arguably thrice, if you include the Cold War), a debt she has seen fit to repay by treating America as a rival to be contained if not confronted. Britain didn't HAVE to get involved in either of the world wars, as you of all people ought to know: she had no direct interest in the Great War, beyond the need to keep the promises she had made to allies, and Hitler was a genuine admirer of Britain and the Empire (read his Table Talk some time.)

Britain could have made peace with Hitler and kept her empire, turning a blind eye to the subsequent annihilation of the Slavs upon the victory of the Wehrmacht in Russia (Generalplan Ost.) Instead she chose to fight Hitler, and lost half a million lives in the process. The British have committed a great many evils in their day, but for this deed even the most ardent anti-colonialist has to give them their due.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on May 9, 2003 09:38 AM

Johnathan Carmel writes: "These pummelings were not by Washington's army but local militia. Nathaniel Greene had driven Cornwallis's forces out of the Carolinas which is why they ended up at Yorktown hoping for resupply from the British navy. Similarly Saratoga was a major American victory. Once again Washington was not a part of that either. But instead it was due to local rebel forces."

Corwallis was in Yorktown preparing for Round Two. Britain's Witless Wonders in New York kept it from happening. Greene's command was very badly battered and had no real hope of significant resupply or reinforcement. Tory support for the Crown was simmering. Greene himself reportedly had no great confidence that he could repeat his Bravure performance of the preceding campaign season.

As to Saratoga... the key to that battle was the excellent working arrangement between Benedict Arnold and Daniel Morgan. General Gates(the American contender for the 18th Century Clueless award) seems to have had a problem with Morgan. Arnold and Morgan got along splendidly. Had Arnold not ignored the orders by General Gates' relieving General Arnold of command and effectively placing him under arrest, the Continentals would have basicly sat there and watched while Burgoyne engulfed the Militia.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on May 9, 2003 09:54 AM

Abiola Lapite writes: "If America had remained under British rule, African-Americans would certainly have been emancipated a lot earlier, so in at least a few respects American independence proved a loss for human welfare."

Hmmm. I'd like to agree with that, but I wonder. Money talks. Had the Colonies remained part of the British Empire, how many "rotten boroughs" would the continental slaveocracy control? British emancipation would be delayed significantly by the influence of continental American slaveowners. Considering the use of slavery as a means of maintaining white supremacy in the south, the Empires's emancipation of slaves just might spark a civil war anyway.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on May 9, 2003 10:06 AM

Abiola

Countries are not people. They do not have emotions and cannot express gratitude. As a Nigerian (expat?) you should know this.

People have emotions. People can express gratitude. And given that WW2 ended 60 years ago, the vast majority of French and American people alive today have absolutely nothing to do with that episode in history, either as saviours or the saved.

It is the height of absurdity to claim moral superiority on the basis of actions carried out by other people long dead, or to expect that French people who have never experienced any favours from the current generation of Americans, should prostrate themselves in gratitude. I have no idea why some people insist on using this argument; it reeks of moral paucity. It is in any case totally irrelevant to the "Iraq" issue, regardless of which stance you hold on the matter.

And as for Britain's involvement in both world wars, don't delude yourself: it had nothing to do with altruism. Anti-semitism was as rampant in the UK as it was in Germany, and Britain had no great desire to save Jews from anything.

No, the British conncluded, quite rightly in my opinion, that complete German domination of Europe would have also meant the eventual end of British sovereignty. Hitler's anglophilia may have made the process of assimilation a little less bloody, but assimilation there would be.

As the United States did conclude in the 50s that Soviet domination of Western Europe would have meant the eventual end of US sovereignty. The fear of communism was the overriding factor here: this is why the Vietnam war was fought, this is why cruise missiles were placed in West Europe (as the Soviets did in East Europe), this is why Biafra was never recognised or aided and over a million Igbo died in the Nigerian civil war, because the West had no liking for yet another third world leader with a Castro beard and revolutionary leanings.

Gratitude? For whom? For what? The leaders of nations have practiced realpolitik, or they have been ruthless ideologues; either way the people have little to do with international politics, and little or no claim on each others' morality.

Posted by: StrontiumDog on May 9, 2003 11:11 AM

Not a historian here, but I have noticed that those who like to bash France for their lack of fight very carefully draw a line between the first and second world wars. A little googling results numbers in the range

France WWI: 1.4 M military casualites, 0.5 M civilian

France WWII: 0.2 M military, 0.4 M civilian

and

US WWI: ~0.1 M miliary

US WWII: 0.4 M military

Posted by: Ben Vollmayr-Lee on May 9, 2003 11:20 AM

To put into perspective: the US claimed at the UN that Iraq had 1000s of tons of WMD, which is why it must be invaded. France wanted to wait a month for the completion of the inspections. And for this France is to be vilified?

As is becoming more obvious, to wait for the inspections would have blown Bush's rationale. It also explains why they haven't even looked for WMDs, until the outcry grew too strong. Therefore it is nothing but vindictiveness to punish France.

Posted by: Rich Phillips on May 9, 2003 11:31 AM

To put into perspective: the US claimed at the UN that Iraq had 1000s of tons of WMD, which is why it must be invaded. France wanted to wait a month for the completion of the inspections. And for this France is to be vilified?

As is becoming more obvious, to wait for the inspections would have blown Bush's rationale. It also explains why they haven't even looked for WMDs, until the outcry grew too strong. Therefore it is nothing but vindictiveness to punish France.

Posted by: Rich Phillips on May 9, 2003 11:33 AM

I'll use this opportunity to correct what has been widely printed in American media without any attempt at fact-checking: These are the facts and not some erroneous, fictitious figures.


French Commercial Interests in Iraq

What are the facts, what are the real figures ?

French exports to Iraq :

Iraq is a minor trading partner for France.

In 2002, Iraq was France's 60th-largest client and 39th-largest supplier. It accounted for 0.15% of our exports and 0.30% of our imports.

All these exports were conducted within the strict framework of the U.N. " Oil for Food " program.

France's position among Iraq's suppliers is modest.

In 2002, France came to the 13th rank and, regarding food supplies, to the 8th rank, behind Australia.

For the whole period of 1998 through 2002, France's total exports amounted to $3.1 billion, placing France at the fifth rank among Iraq's suppliers.

For the current period, an amount of 9 billions of contracts, from diverse origins, are in the « pipe » of the Oil for food program. Among these contracts, contracts owned by French companies amount to only 232M US dollars.

However, these figures are based on the contracts' origins and not on the merchandises' origins. Consequently, they include sales from other countries, including the United States of America.

As an example, during the period 1998-2002, Halliburton traded $100 million worth of contracts with Iraq through its subsidiaries in France.

In addition to Halliburton, several other U.S. corporations used France as a " mailbox " (or a front) for a total amount of $400 million.

The same is true for British subsidiaries.

Oil imports from Iraq :

Iraq ranks 9th among the countries that supply oil to France. France purchased 8% of Iraq oil exports.

As a comparison, the U.S. ranked first in Iraqi oil purchases and bought 40,9 % of Iraqi oil exports in 2001.

French Debt :

The figure of $ 8 billion disseminated by the media is totally false.

France is the fifth creditor of Iraq with an amount of euros 1.8 billion, behind Russia, Japan, Germany and the United States (with an amount of $2,1 billion) .

Posted by: superfrog on May 9, 2003 12:15 PM

I don't understand: why do the historical facts matter with regard to the jokes being told? So long as everyone here is familiar with the basic implications of the "you're welcome," whether they find it funny or not, it doesn't actually matter whether the relative importance of American contribution to France's independence is more important or better meaning or anything than the French contribution to the U.S.'s independence. I am not very familiar with the facts here, and don't know much about the likelyhood of the U.S. staying a British colony without French aid, of France staying under Germany occupation indefinitely, becoming a puppet of Stalin's USSR, but I don't think knowing those facts would make the jokes funnier (though there are more important reason why I should become more learned in that respect), so why the big debate over two (IMHO) moderately funny jokes?

Posted by: Julian Elson on May 9, 2003 12:52 PM

"Countries are not people. They do not have emotions and cannot express gratitude. As a Nigerian (expat?) you should know this."

Thank you for your condescension. If you can't understand the use of a turn of phrase, that is entirely your problem. Just don't assume that I'm going to take your limitations for a substantive argument.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on May 9, 2003 01:34 PM

"Anti-semitism was as rampant in the UK as it was in Germany"

- I see that you live in an alternative reality from the one I inhabit ...

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on May 9, 2003 01:36 PM

Steven: I'm glad to get your comments.
At last someone who knows something about
the issue rather than just getting upset at
me for contradicting what they learned in
elementary school.

I'm surprised by your tone. We seem to be
agreeing about almost everything.

A. I conceded the key role of the French
at Yorktown. Why do people keep arguing in this
thread that the French were the key to Yorktown
when I said that very thing in my first post.

B. One question is whether Yorktown was
pivotal, meaning if it the French and
Washington didn't show and Yorktown didn't
happen how likely is that to have reversed
the outcome of the War of Independence.
My answer is not likely. Maybe Cornwallis
would have had more success pillaging
the Carolinas but it is hard to see how
that wins the war for the British. They
still hadn't set foot in New England
and couldn't do more than forays over the
Delaware River into Penn.

C. I said the French gave the US funding
in my first post. Perhaps the magnitude is greater than I implied. I meant guns and ammunitions in addition to money.

I would argue that French role in supplying arms and funds was more important than Yorktown. It doesn't seem like we have much disagreement here.

But giving money to support a rebellion against your chief adversary is very garden variety support that one power gives to enemies of another power. It isn't like storming the beaches at Normandy and retaking through force of arms a nation which has been entirely occupied. (no quibbling about Vichy, please). These are orders of magnitude different things.

D. French actions in other theaters were
due to other wars between the French and
the British. It wasn't intended as help
for the US. Britain had many enemies and
had to keep strength in garrisons and reserves
to protect against them. Perhaps we should
count all of them as well. (Once again, this
doesn't hold a candle to Normandy.)

E. The loss of Charleston in 1780: I'm
counting that as part of the Carolinas
campaign that Greene won. Granted there
were early battles the British won, just like
in the Hudson River campaign, the British
won some battles at Fort Ticondiroga and others.
But in the end they lost the campaign at
Saratoga. I was speaking loosely. I was
refering the the Carolinas campaign as a
"battle" and the Lake Champlain/Hudson River
Valley campaign as a battle. We agree the
British lost both. We also agree that Washington
wasn't a part of either.

You are right that I overused the term militia. I don't know to what extent the Americans in the army in the War of Independence can be counted as regular army as opposed to militia. I was counting regional units such as headed by commanders other than Washington as militia.

But this is besides the point. The parts of the "regular" continental army that were not led by Washington together with militias were more than sufficient to badly hurt the British once they got too far from their supply base. I think we agree on this. This was the fundamental problem facing the British... not Yorktown... not Washington.

Washington did a very nice job protecting
Philadelphia and Pennsylvania by harrassing the
British once they got to mid-New Jersey. That
was his job... to see that the British forces in
Manhattan are unable to exert any control over
area beyond the Delaware River and West Point.

It seems we basically agree.
Where's the beef?

Posted by: Jonathan Carmel on May 9, 2003 02:19 PM

The British interest in the American colonies was enforcing their tax collections by means of tariffs. So long as the British held the major ports of entry and blockaded the ones they did not hold, they could control the commerce. This is similar to the spheres of influence policy that was used in China.

The American insurgents could have pushed the British out of the interior, but they would still have to rely on British controlled ports for export. Without the French intervention and end to the British blockades and port control, the fight could have gone on much longer. The British could have potentially out lasted the Americans, given the split of about 1/3 pro revolution, 1/3 loyalist and 1/3 neutral during the Revolutionary War.

Posted by: bakho on May 9, 2003 02:47 PM

bakho:
That's a reasonable point. Then the question becomes why did the British put an enormous army in Manhattan. (I think it was the biggest British expeditionary force up to that time... but I could be wrong.)

Unless I'm being unfair, I think your argument
implies that they could have just used naval
forces to maintain a blockade...

If so, Yorktown is not pivotal. Neither are the French.

In general, the French navy was in no position to break a British blockade. De Gasse's voyage to Yorktown was a rare exception when the British navy was tied up with activities elsewhere and did not have the resources available to keep the French fleet bottled up.

But generally, the French would have been almost no help with respect to a British blockade.

I think the downside to the blockade approach
is that the US has many possible harbors that
it could send ships out of. Blockading Boston,
the mouth of the Delaware River and Charleston
would not be enough. There are plenty of good
harbors on the East Coast that could accommodate 18th century ships.

At a minimum Britain would have tied up a very large part of its fleet trying the enforce a blockade. This would have been very costly to the British strategically. The British had too many other important missions for their navy.

Posted by: Jonathan Carmel on May 9, 2003 03:06 PM

Johnathan,

Thank you for your clarification, and for the reasonable tone of your reply.

I think our main point of disagreement is over the inevitably of Rebel victory, with a side dish of dispute over how vital French aid was.

Simply put, without Fench aid, I don't think the AWI would have lasted until Yorktown. Sources vary, but there seems to be general agreement(I.A.N.A. historian, and my books on the subject are not at hand, so take this for whatever you think it is worth)that roughly a third of the Colonial's artillery came from France. Most of the rest of the American artillery park was captured at Fort Ticonderoga by Ethan Allen - and Benedict Arnold, who just keeps popping up at those critical moments early in the war, doesn't he?

And those nifty .69 caliber muskets I alluded to earlier. Again, pulling these numbers from memory, one source claimed that two out of five muskets used by the rebels came from French arsenals. That is likely too high, but one in five may be too low.

The massive British army loafing in Manhatten - total incompetence and sloth on the part of the British command. Cornwallis would probably have traded a finger or toe for each thousand men or battery of artillery pried loose from New York for his operations. I believe Charleston was still in British hands when Cornwallis withdrew to Virgina. By the way, Lafayette's stand at Colonial Heights in Virginia helped greatly to herd Cornwallis into Yorktown.

France's entry into the war was certainly self-serving. As was the entry of Spain and The Netherlands. But whatever the motives, by the time of Yorktown the British were in a horrible strategic position. Her army was eing poured into the vastness of the American colonies, her navy was grossly outnumbered by the Coaliiton forces. And the situation was getting worse. The Dutch Navy was totally unready for war when the Dutch Government thrust it upon them, but Dutch Naval readiness levels were improving fast by this point. Add to the numerical odds the fact that in the 1780's, the Royal Navy was at a definate low point on their historical quality curve. Invasion of England was a very real possibility.

Had the Americans not pulled the rug out from under everybody by signing a seperate peace with the British an invasion would have been mounted. A force of some kind would probably have gotten ashore. The best troops in the British Army were on the wrong side of the pond. If you are in the British Government, Yorktown gives you loads of reasons to cut a deal with those pesky Colonials.

No French support, no munitions and money for the Continental Congress. This is vital. Hell, it was silver from Rochambeau's war chest that paid Washington's troops on the march to Yorktown. Barbara Tuchmans "The First Salute" make it perfectly clear the Continental Army would have disintegrated on the march south without it. But French money was helping the Congress to pay the bills long before that.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on May 9, 2003 03:50 PM

"Britain didn't HAVE to get involved in either of the world wars, as you of all people ought to know: she had no direct interest in the Great War, beyond the need to keep the promises she had made to allies, and Hitler was a genuine admirer of Britain and the Empire (read his Table Talk some time.)"

Since the rise of the Hapsburgs, perhaps no country has meddled in the affairs of continental Europe more than England/UK. Simply put, the UK would never have stood for a unified continental empire of any sort. Until 1944, their foreign policy re: the continent was to ensure a balance of power.

The massive economic might the Hapsburg/French/ German Empires (in that order) was viewed as an overwhelming force, one that would have negated protection of the English Channel and the Royal Navy. To suggest Great Britain in WWII had any choice is nonsense - a "Unified Europe" would have transformed a bunch of Great Powers into a Super Power. Forget altruism or morality, this was about survival.

All this moral grandstanding is laughable. Why did the US/UK react so slowly to the Holocaust? Granted, taking on the Germans was a complicated affair, so perhaps it was best to let the Soviets tire them out before things got too rough. (Norman Davies, a British historian, refers to these WWI and WWII as the 2-part Russo-German war for European dominance. Until the US was involved in WWII, the Western front was largely an annoying diversion for the Germans.)

Regarding the cold war, I ask one question: why did France obtain independent nuclear weapons capabilities? Perhaps it was because DeGaulle never believed the Yanks would defend them or perhaps it was to restore some kind of might in the face of decline. Regardless, if one believes MADD was effective, then they seem to have defended themselves quite well.

Posted by: Stephane on May 9, 2003 07:49 PM

Steven:
I'll put that down as agreement.
I said the aid in terms of money and equipment
was vital, more vital than Yorktown but that
this is the garden variety assistance one
power over gives when a rebellion strikes its
greatest adversary. It is not on the order
of storming the beaches at Normandy and retaking
a captured nationed.

Posted by: Jonathan Carmel on May 10, 2003 01:13 AM

As a non-American and non-Frenchman, I have to say this is a bizarre thread. Endless arguing over events that took place long, long ago that really tell us nothing about current affairs.

Then one person makes a truly devastating post that, IMO, destroys any argument about the 'treachery' of France over Iraq and what happens? The elephant in the lounge room is carefully ignored by all parties.

Posted by: derrida derider on May 10, 2003 02:50 AM

Well, the thread was sparked by two jokes relating to historical events, one over events long ago, one not so long ago so what kind of events would you expect to be discussed?

As to superfrog's post, yes it was excellent. The French certinly were not treacherous, but their diplomacy in the current Iraq affair was... clumsy. Such ham-handedness is almost expected from the USA, but from France? Surprising behavior for a nation with such a skilled diplomatic corps. As all nations, France is looking out for her own perceived best interests. Besides, the dispute. is not over what anybody got out of Iraq over the past twelve years, but who will get what slice of the Iraqi economic pie in the future.

Johnathan,

Yes, I think we are in broad agreement.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on May 10, 2003 06:09 AM

As a French citizen I am more than willing to acknowledge the debt France owes the US and others (Britain, the Russian people, Australia, Canada) in liberating France and defeating the Nazi regime. And contrary to popular belief, many in France feel the same way:

See:
http://fleursdelamemoire.free.fr/index.php?op=edito

But this does not mean I cannot speak out against the policies of the any US administration if I believe they are misguided.

Posted by: AmericanFrog on May 10, 2003 08:45 AM

"Since the rise of the Hapsburgs, perhaps no country has meddled in the affairs of continental Europe more than England/UK. Simply put, the UK would never have stood for a unified continental empire of any sort. Until 1944, their foreign policy re: the continent was to ensure a balance of power"

How convenient it must be for you to believe that. It certainly makes it easier for you to accuse "Les Anglo-Saxons" of "hegemony", "hyperpower" and all that other nonsense without being bothered by the pangs of conscience. Let me ask you then - what about Neville Chamberlain? Was he motivated by "balance of power" considerations? What about Lord Halifax, and others like him who wanted to make peace with Hitler in 1940, after France had been conquered? What realpolitik could have motivated Britain to keep fighting in 1940 without any allies, with the mighty Wehrmacht just across the channel in Normandy? Why did Roosevelt choose to concentrate the initial American effort in Europe, when it was the Japanese who had actually attacked America? And who are the French to accuse the British, who bore three times the casualties they did to remove Hitler's troops from their soil, of realpolitik?

Self-serving rhetoric like yours is the reason why so many British and American people dislike and distrust the French. That Charles de Gaulle could only afford his posturing because he knew NATO forces in Germany lay between him and the Red Army is something many would like to forget. Even France's membership in the UN Security Council wasn't warranted by any facts of "realpolitik." All that romantic nonsense of French "resistance" is just so much face-saving rubbish - far more Frenchmen collaborated with the Nazis than resisted, and had Dietrich von Choltitz chosen to fight as he was ordered to, Paris would indeed have burned to the ground. Hell, the last troops defending Hitler in 1945 were French soldiers of the SS Charlemagne division - so much for the "glorious" French resistance!

Let's face the facts - without Anglo-American assistance, there would have been simply no chance that French politicians would have the freedom to strut and grandstand on the world stage that they are so vigorously exercising today.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on May 10, 2003 09:12 AM

I cannot agree w/ Stephane that Britain policies w/ regard to the continent were motivated by a desire for "hegemony".
Its obvious that Britain has long had a very strong interest in a stable and prosperous Europe and at the same time Europe that is not united under a single power. Those are natural interests and I don't see why they are hegemonic. I am French but I have a deep respect for British politcal institutions and political life.

But I also find Abiola Lapite's post disingenious and historically innaccurate. Some of my fellow Frenchman might indeed chose to overestimate the reach of the resistence but others who have a pyschological bias against France overestimate the numeric importance of the milices and collaborationist groups.

In any case these historical issues are fascinating but they have little to do with the moral choices French and Britons make as they go along their daily lives.

Posted by: AmericanFrog on May 10, 2003 09:55 AM

Oh, you know, France exported the Baath leaders so they could stage a coup in some other country. Please, kids. If any one of the Iraqi officials popped out of hiding, they would be set upon by international police. Had they stayed in Iraq, they woul dhave just ran into exile and could have returned like the Taliban. Any high school graduate would know that the French blockaded and sieged Yorktown. Had the port stayed open, Cornwallis would have received reinforcements and supplies, prolonging the war. Then again, do the Russians have control of all the land East of France?

Posted by: Freez3L on May 10, 2003 11:06 AM

"far more Frenchmen collaborated with the Nazis than resisted, and had Dietrich von Choltitz chosen to fight as he was ordered to, Paris would indeed have burned to the ground."
I'm not sure what the second clause here has to do with the first one, except for the pleasure of thinking of Paris burning to the ground.
There is an awful lot of historical revisionism in this thread, in all directions. I sincerely hope nobody takes their history from here.

Posted by: John Isbell on May 10, 2003 05:34 PM

I second what derrida d. says. And superfrog. This stuff is ludicrous, given what we know about the commercial activities of Rumsfeld, Cheney, and others.

Posted by: zizka on May 10, 2003 06:33 PM

There's nothing funny about either joke, except possibly the idea that either people are gracious in these matters or were acting from anything but self interest (unenlightened in the case of the French).

Jonathan Carmel should perhaps consider how the British used sea power in the strategic control of Ireland and in actions in Europe. The thing is, if no defeat is decisive and any victory is - which you can achieve with sustained command of the seas - you only have to hang in there until it comes right and you win permanently. That and British powers of recuperation gave rise to "the British lose every battle but the last" - because that's why it was the last.

But in America the rebels had the strategic depth to regroup, the sea distance to reduce British seapower's effectiveness, and the allies to tip the balance of the strategic background. Oh, and British traditions that led them to hang in there.

All that blundering would have worked out in Britain's favour, in the old way, if something else hadn't supervened; the old process was happening after Saratoga, which had looked to the winners like a decisive victory but wasn't. That something supervening was the French, both in 1781 and by France producing European developments that prevented the question being revisited until the USA really was too hard a nut to chew slowly if still too hard to crack.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on May 11, 2003 05:38 PM

"Let's face the facts - without Anglo-American assistance, there would have been simply no chance that French politicians would have the freedom to strut and grandstand on the world stage that they are so vigorously exercising today."

I don't doubt for a second France wouldn't have been liberated without US, UK, and Russian intervention. That's not the point.

"How convenient it must be for you to believe that. It certainly makes it easier for you to accuse "Les Anglo-Saxons" of "hegemony", "hyperpower" and all that other nonsense without being bothered by the pangs of conscience."

I didn't suggest that the UK sought hegemony, you're putting words in my mouth. I stated they were seeking to block German hegemony over the continent. Indeed, the UK, going back a long way, was incapable (its population and wealth endowment were too small) of imposing dominance over the continent. Its historical role, using diplomatic guile, the riches of the Empire, and a terrific navy was to either fund allies or get directly involved in restraining Spain/France/Germany. Britain was instrumental in ensuring the sovereignty of the Low Countries and some of the German Principalities when militaristic France ran amok.

The UK, justifiably, feared a type of "Finlandization". Look at Germany's resource allocation during the war, who was a bigger threat to Berlin, Russia or the UK? The Western front only became a serious problem for Germany when the US showed up with its overwhelming force. Given that imbalance, how do you think a "free" UK adjacent to Fortress Europa would have fared, even with a friendly Hitler? If that isn't reason enough to look after one's self-interests, I don't know what is.

Simply put, if France was lost, the UK was lost (particuarly with a crumbling Empire) - that's why they sacrificed their young. Moreover, the point regarding Halifax, in my opinion, reinforces my point. Churchill was determined to fight on because he understood the threat. In the end, Halifax didn't get his way.

I'm not at all suggesting anyone has the moral imperative to wag his or her finger at anyone else. France is "no better" than anyone else. But all this "you owe us" stuff is nonsense, especially if it's underpinned by a morality lecture that borders on ranting.

Posted by: Stephane on May 11, 2003 06:53 PM

The problem is not that we Americans don't owe gratitude to France. The problem is that the France to which we owe gratitude ... doesn't exist any more.

Can you imagine Chirac, or anybody of his ilk, risking either his fortune, or his life, or his sacred honor, to uphold human liberty in the way that Lafayette and De Grasse did?

And if you can't, then can you begin to understand why it does not *quite* refute the American gibe to say that we owe a debt of gratitude to Lafayette?

This April, America freed 20 million human beings from a tyranny where dropping people into plastic shredders, lopping off ears, and imprisoning small children was considered routine. We did it without permission from the U.N., which had snoozed through Rwanda. We did it without permission from the French, who were terrified that we might actually overthrow Hussein and ruin their investments in the plastic-shredder regime. We did it without permission from Russia, which had supplied Iraq with the bulk of its arms and had no problem with it having WMD as long as it was a convenient cat's-paw. We freed 20 million people without permission from any of them.

What the HELL do the individuals on the Left think that Lafayette would have to say about France, his France, his homeland, having sided *with* Hussein and *with* the plastic-shredders, *against* the country whose soil he had brought back from North America so that he could be buried under it?

Prof. De Long, please -- I beg of you -- stop putting up these posts in defense of modern France. They're grotesque.

Posted by: Erich Schwarz on May 11, 2003 07:39 PM

Lafayette would have pointed out that France asked for another month for inspections. Given that US inspections have taken over a month with complete control of the country, that seems reasonable.
You might want to read some Lafayette before wondering what he would say. There's plenty of it.

Posted by: John Isbell on May 11, 2003 08:10 PM

I agree the UN snoozed though Rwanda. But I wonder why no one chose to act without the UN's permission to prevent or at least attenuate the killing? Gee whiz, I’m stumped.

Posted by: Stephane on May 11, 2003 08:42 PM

Erich Schwarz: the USA freed nobody from any such thing. Because the USA is what makes monsters that do things like that. So, after Saddam, another comes.

As for "And if you can't [imagine Chirac, or anybody of his ilk, risking either his fortune, or his life, or his sacred honor, to uphold human liberty in the way that Lafayette and De Grasse did [they didn't, they were young idiots as shown by the subsequent revolution]], then can you begin to understand why it does not *quite* refute the American gibe to say that we owe a debt of gratitude to Lafayette?"

- that was a reductio ad absurdum. The USA does NOT owe any such debt. The argument is NOT that, the USA owing such a debt it may claim no such debt; rather, it is saying, since this is a riduculous claim (which you have understood), don't you see that any such claim is riduculous?

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on May 11, 2003 11:39 PM

'I was refering the the Carolinas campaign as a
"battle" and the Lake Champlain/Hudson River Valley campaign as a battle. We agree the British lost both.'

The British won the former, in that they moved on until Yorktown, and the latter was draw (though Pyrrhic), in that Canada was never threatened again during that war.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on May 11, 2003 11:47 PM

Stontium Dog wrote, "Countries are not people. They do not have emotions and cannot express gratitude. As a Nigerian (expat?) you should know this."

Abiola Lapite responded: "Thank you for your condescension. If you can't understand the use of a turn of phrase, that is entirely your problem. Just don't assume that I'm going to take your limitations for a substantive argument."

I don't know about the "Nigerian (expat?)" part, but the comment, "Countries are not people" is neither condescending, nor misunderstanding of the use of "France" or "U.S."

Countries are NOT people. Governments are not The People. And governments don't even have a legitimate claim to representing The People, if they aren't chosen by The People. That's why both jokes are so pathetic (unless the first joke is from an 80+ year-old U.S. veteran of WWII).

It's ridiculous for me to expect a French person to thank *me* for that person's not speaking German. I'm 45...I was too young (just barely) for Vietnam, let alone WWII. Even my father was too young for WWII...just barely. So


And it's even more ridiculous for me to thank any living French person for my not being a British subject. First of all, the French government of the time didn't even legitimately represent its people. So the fact that the French government spent $772 million (thanks, Internet) in support of the U.S. in the Revolutionary War does NOT mean we can thank the French people. They had no say in the matter, since they didn't elect their government. But more importantly, anyone who DID give money that went from the French government to the U.S. rebels is long dead.

It's foolish to thank people--or blame them, for that matter--for the actions of their ancestors. This is especially true if the actions of those ancestors were NOT voluntary.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 12, 2003 09:51 AM

Stephane

I appreciate your comment, but I suspect that Schwartz is too (wantonly?) ignorant to take your point. So in simple words, for people who follow a simple leader:

The US prevented UN action in Rwanda.

The president at the time (a Mr. Clinton) has acknowledged this as the greatest stain on his presidency. Subsequent administrations have chosen to ignore this stain, although they seem to have been concerned about others....

Posted by: JRoth on May 12, 2003 01:03 PM

"If America had remained under British rule, African-Americans would certainly have been emancipated a lot earlier,..."

Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834. It was abolished in the United States in 1865...31 years later.

I think it's a matter of legitimate debate if the British Empire would completely abolished slavery in 1834, if they'd still had colonies in the U.S. in 1834. (For example, the British Empire might have made an exception for the American South, rather than completely ending slavery everywhere in the empire.)

So...a difference of 31 years. Or perhaps less. That's a very long time--a lifetime, back in those days--to a slave. However, considering that slavery of Africans was practiced in the British Empire from the mid 1600s ownward, or roughly 200 years, the 31 years difference between when the British Empire ended it, and when the U.S. ended it, seems less impressive (i.e., 200 years, versus 231 years). Especially considering that slavery was never a signicant part of the economy of the British Empire, but *was* a huge part--the predominant part, in fact--of the economy of the South.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 12, 2003 02:19 PM

"Lafayette would have pointed out that France asked for another month for inspections. Given that US inspections have taken over a month with complete control of the country, that seems reasonable."

"You might want to read some Lafayette before wondering what he would say. There's plenty of it."

Given the fact that Lafayette risked his "life, fortune, and sacred honor" to eliminate (in only a colony) the rule of a tyrant who was far, far, FAR less tyrannical than Saddam Hussein...why do you think he wouldn't have supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein?

Perhaps you can point us (the ignorant masses) to some of Lafayette's words that indicate would have supported the continuation of Saddam Hussein's tyranny.

Perhaps, "'Sic semper tyrannis'...ce n'est pas bon." ;-)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 12, 2003 02:53 PM


P. M. Lawrence replies to Johnathan Carmel:

'I was refering the the Carolinas campaign as a
"battle" and the Lake Champlain/Hudson River Valley campaign as a battle. We agree the British lost both.'

'The British won the former, in that they moved on until Yorktown, and the latter was draw (though Pyrrhic), in that Canada was never threatened again during that war.'

That is a very, very strained definition of "won" as regards to the Carolina Campaign. Cornwallis hemself does not seem to have regarded the pre-Yorktown phase of the campaign as a victory. Cornwallis did not inted to reswupply at Yorktown, he was headed further noruntil Lafayette diverted him at Colonial Heights.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on May 12, 2003 03:31 PM


P. M. Lawrence replies to Johnathan Carmel:

'I was refering the the Carolinas campaign as a
"battle" and the Lake Champlain/Hudson River Valley campaign as a battle. We agree the British lost both.'

'The British won the former, in that they moved on until Yorktown, and the latter was draw (though Pyrrhic), in that Canada was never threatened again during that war.'

That is a very, very strained definition of "won" as regards to the Carolina Campaign. Cornwallis hemself does not seem to have regarded the pre-Yorktown phase of the campaign as a victory. Cornwallis did not inted to resupply at Yorktown, he was headed further north until Lafayette diverted him at Colonial Heights.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on May 12, 2003 03:32 PM

Sure it's strained. But, in context, it's accurate. That is, it represents something "won" that was worth having and would not have fallen away - IF the usual strategic realities had prevailed, the ones I was trying to draw attention to.

There remains the cost of victory. The significant fact is that the usual strategic realities did not prevail, not the price of the victory in the southern states - because it was less than Pyrrhic. More of the same could have been done until the whole was pacified; a Pyrrhic victory would have prevented that approach being continued, but it just wasn't that expensive a victory. Yorktown did the preventing instead.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on May 12, 2003 06:08 PM

Cornwallis fully intended to try again in the Carolina's next campaign season. Neither Nathaniel Greene nor Francis Marion was at all confident that they could repeat their previous performance.

I chalk up the Carolina campaign in the "Rebel Win" category, you allot it to the British. There has been a lot of ink applied to paper on the issue and I freely admit there are powerful arguements on your side in the matter.

Posted by: Steven Rogers on May 12, 2003 06:52 PM

Fair enough. Essentially, I was working from two reinforcing things: the British had more after that southern campaign than before; and they weren't (aside from the French dei ex machinis) going to slide back further there or elsewhere as a side-effect and so end up worse off after all.

But if you come out asking "did the British hold the area afterwards?" - then no, but I was considering "wins on points" as it were, proxy estimates for the ultimate outcome.

But then came the French (who had true mercenaries, oddly enough, not subsidiary forces misnamed mercenaries).

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on May 12, 2003 10:32 PM

In reference to JM's note on casualties in WWII

France: 340,000 military and 470,000 civilian =
810,000 total (I believe they had 100,000 in just the first 6 week of the war, Spring, 1940).

US: 295,000 military (that's both theaters,
Europe and Pacific.) Civilian casualties were negligible.

Source: http://www.valourandhorror.com/DB/BACK/Casualties.htm

Posted by: afh on May 13, 2003 02:00 PM

"What the HELL do the individuals on the Left think that Lafayette would have to say about France, his France, his homeland, having sided *with* Hussein and *with* the plastic-shredders, *against* the country whose soil he had brought back from North America so that he could be buried under it?"

Come off it. Lafayette would certainly not have been any friend of Saddam Hussein. And then again, as a civilized individual, he would certainly have had respect for the principles of international law, one of which states that you do not invade another country on just your government's say-so, no matter how tyrannical the other country's regime. This is not just a matter of principle, it is quite pragmatic as well. For example, neither we nor the USSR could have been able to get the huge degree of popular support in the war against Nazi Germany if we had attacked Hitler first rather than waiting for Hitler to attack us. Fortunately, Hussein's regime was so isolated and weak that it fell even though there was not a huge degree of popular support here in the U.S. If the Bush adm. chooses another target, however, we might not be so lucky.

Posted by: andres on May 13, 2003 02:07 PM

"...he would certainly have had respect for the principles of international law, one of which states that you do not invade another country on just your government's say-so, no matter how tyrannical the other country's regime."

France came to the aid of the colonies, without anything more than the fact that the French government didn't like the Britain.

And Lafayette fought against the English, even though England didn't invade France (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Finally, the tyranny of George III over the American colonies was far LESS than the tyranny of Saddam Hussein over his people.

"Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country." —Lafayette

http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/95sep/lafayette.html

And now liberty has one more country. However, only time will tell (as in America of 1782) whether liberty will last in Iraq.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 14, 2003 02:59 PM
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