A cartoon illustrating Uncle Sam and Kermit le Frog dukin’ it out: nice. An American calling France “the land of … arrogance and hypocrisy”: priceless. I happen to agree with Henry Sarria (Daily Nexus, “Frog Legs Sautéed in Oil,” Feb. 10) that, from an American perspective, the stereotypical French person is both arrogant and hypocritical. But let’s talk about these two characteristics for a moment.
Even if we, as Americans, do not feel arrogant, isn’t it possible that our foreign policy record might convey to the world an impression of overbearing superiority? As for our hypocrisy, don’t get me started. Saying one thing and then doing another is one thing we’re good at. We say that we want to free the people of Iraq from the thuggish grip of Saddam Hussein and that may be true. Continuing along these lines to say that the French are, as Mr. Sarria pointed out five times, vetoing the NATO measure only to satisfy their need for “cheap oil” seems to be a tad hypocritical. There are a lot of reasons that we are going to war and I do believe that access to even more cheap oil is among them.
I also feel the need to point out that when Mr. Sarria invokes the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor and USS Stark incident as instances of French hypocrisy, the examples themselves are hypocritical. First of all, it’s true that the French did provide for and build the Iraqi reactor but who do you think provided for and built the nuclear reactors in France or in most of the other “nuclear-capable” countries? Second, the USS Stark incident is a great example of our own hypocrisy when juxtaposed next to the USS Liberty incident. USS Stark: In 1987 Iraqi (French-made) missiles struck an American ship, killing 37 sailors, injuring 21. USS Liberty: in 1967 Israeli (American-made) missiles struck an American ship, killing 34 sailors, injuring 171. You would think that such horrendous “mistakes” would have created quite a stir over here and yet it didn’t. It’s not hard to figure out why.
The NATO measure vetoed by France, Belgium and Germany is, in a nutshell, official consent for military planning in defense of Turkey in the event of war with Iraq. These three countries are not anti-Turkish; they do not gleefully await Turkey’s demise at the hands of an aggressive Iraq. They simply do not wish the U.S. to rush into a war without first exhausting all diplomatic options. It would seem unlikely that the NATO countries have yet to begin military planning, least likely Turkey with its enormous military. Whether NATO is involved or not, there will soon be around 38,000 American troops in Turkey, using its border with Iraq to open up a second front. In return, Turkish troops will follow close behind the American forces so to ensure that an autonomous Kurdish state will not be created in northern Iraq.
France’s veto of the NATO measure at hand is little more than a symbol to protest our rushing to war and an objection to the ‘righteousness’ and ‘necessity’ of our government’s course of action. Ousting Saddam will successfully liberate the Iraqi people from his evil rule but dropping hundreds of bombs per day on Baghdad will successfully kill the Iraqi people with our kindness. To borrow from Mr. Sarria, America is “exhibiting the arrogance it’s always shown in the past sprinkled with a touch of hypocrisy and a greed for cheap oil at the expense of the Iraqi people.” I’ve got much love for America, but I can’t help objecting to the blind patriotism that rejects all international criticism as being part of the problem.
Sina Farzaneh is a senior philosophy and cultural anthropology major.