May 11, 2003

The View from France Cartoons

The View from France

Cartoons like this one appear routinely in what is France's equivalent of the New York Times (Le Monde). Given the routineness I haven't bothered to comment on them in the past. But this one stuck with me and, while no longer on Le Monde's site, I was able to find it elsewhere (via Merde in France). Why is this one special? Because it speaks volumes about the current worldview of French elites.

Iraq, ultimately, became a lighting rod for all the predictable resentment of the U.S. hegemon or hyperpuissance. Fine, great powers are often resented by lesser powers on the world stage. No surprise there.

But the mockery of the so called "vassals" (a word often used in French discourse over the past months to describe countries like Spain, the U.K, Italy or Poland) is encapsulated by the licking of (a grotesquely disfigured) Uncle Sam's boots in the cartoon. Such an outlook helps explain Chirac's derision and bossy treatment of the Central and Eastern European countries--along with a requisite Gallic dose of folie de grandeur.

Note too that the vassal word entered the French lexicon well before Iraq--Chirac's neo-Gaullist project has been a factor in French policymaking for a good while now.

I have not yet seen wide-scale efforts among French elites to seriously address the merits of France's position vis-a-vis Resolution 1441, a sincere reckoning with fairly positive Iraqi reaction to the unseating of Saddam, or a thorough appraisal of their own dealings with the Baathist regime. Quelle dommage!


NOTE: The caption reads: "You no longer belong to the United Nations of America." And I assume the woman clad in red is meant to symbolize, of course, France.

Posted by Gregory at May 11, 2003 01:53 PM
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