Sunday, April 10, 2011

Après vous. Non, Après Vous!

I was in Germany and France in the run UP TO the NATO bombing campaign in Libya, and was in a Belfort France the night the French started bombing targets in the Libya.  As an American, it was very interesting to see the European perspective and international dynamic at work, between the different players:
- Germany, the methodical, process driven, "Vee Have Ein Process Fur Everyzing", very conscious of last century's imperialistic expansion and history, measured response.
- France, where a National Election Loomed Large, with Sarkozy's party polling in the 17% approval range, and a former imperialist in neighboring Algeria and Tunsia, chomping at the bit to begin a Clintonesque distraction to boost poll ratings
- United States, formerly known as "World Police", "smokem outta their holes", "dead or alive",. "with us or against us" Bush era unilateral go it alone response now tempered to the "we don't want another Rwanda like Clinton had", "let's get Arab League Consensus", United Nations citizen.

The Germans I spoke with, in English, were cautious, not wanting to embrace a quagmire, not wanting to kill civilians, emphasizing diplomacy, and a measured response to the Libyan uprisings.

The French persons I spoke with, in French, were CONVINCED that "Obama wants to bomb them". Huh??? Everything I was hearing on the BBC and CNN and online news outlets showed a staid, reserved, calm, logical, consensus building response, NOT repeating Bush's hubris.  When I countered with this argument, the French invariably refused to believe it, and rejected the Clinton / Sarkozy analogy of cruise missile air strikes to distract on domestic political problems in France.  When I brought up Sarkozy's Napoleonic attributes, I was further dismissed, across the board, and excused as an "un-knowing American, ignorant of French history". 

So while I was in France, the bombing ramped up.  The French took a proud lead in the initial air strikes.  Obama went on TV stating the UN and Arab League requested help, and it was a consensus effort.  A week later, Obama announced the US is stepping down and NATO is leading, and US conservatives go nuts.  "Is Sarkozy a US citizen now? He's taking the lead" the Fox idiots whined.  While back in Europe, NO ONE was eager or willing to take up the leadership role.  EVERYONE was happy to have the US stick its neck out front, and be the punching bag for the world, but not France (whose election was past by then), nor Italy (who was besieged by thousands of refuges off of Sicily), nor the British (who have huge oil deals with Kaddahfi), nor the self conscious Germans who had already stated clearly their opposition were willing or able to step up and play a major role.  So the EU hid behind "NATO", a notoriously indecisive organization who does everything by committee, once the US Bully was no longer leading the charge.

After you! no, please...   after you!  Apres vous...  mais non, non!  Apres vous!  So quick the French and British were to rush into the battle - as long as the world perceives it as the US leading the charge in case there's any retaliation from Al Queda or Hammas or Hezbollah or residual Libyan agents.... and So Quick to distance themselves from the rhetoric they were feistily spouting just days before. It was not just the British and French governments.  The national media apparatuses were fully engaged in this malarkey as well.

It was a relief, at least temporarily to be away from the stupidity that is Fox news while I was in Europe - it's not seen there, like Pravda is not seen outside of Russia, or the China Daily is not seen outside of Totalitarian China, since it's a propaganda outlet first and foremost.  Once I got back, and I watched the Obama speech on Libya in my own living room, it was disgusting and disheartening to see Fox and their Republican unbalanced and unfair slant beside themselves in uproar trying to make Obama sound like the worst US President in History, even when he agreed with them.

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