The National Security Council may be stumped by the problem of how to deal with the refractory French – but not the ingenious readers of NRO! Yesterday I asked for suggestions about consequences for France’s hostility to the United States since 9/11. The request ignited an explosion of creativity – some 300 emails as of 2 pm, when I had to stop reading.
The most frequently heard answer was some variation of John O’Sullivan’s TAFTA idea – creation of a Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area that would protect European free traders from French jealousy and protectionism. Runner-up was some kind of reworking of NATO to exclude France. And many, many people recalled Dean Rusk’s bitter comment to Charles De Gaulle after France’s (alas temporary) withdrawal from NATO: “Should we dig up our dead in Normandy and take them home too?”
A couple of readers reminded me of the devilishly simple riposte favored by John Fund of the Wall Street Journal: Offer 20,000 Green Cards to France’s 20,000 best computer scientists. Follow up with an offer of 5,000 Green Cards to Germany’s 5,000 leading auto designers. If that doesn’t bring them to their knees, do it again!
Then came the more, ahem, offbeat suggestions, which collectively prove (again!) that NRO has the fastest, smartest, and wittiest readers on the web. A sampling of the liveliest:
“People say we should boycott French products or treat them to some diplomatic nastiness. I disagree. There’s nothing that drives the French so crazy as doing good for them. What they’ve always hated about us isn’t that we’re mean-spirited. It’s that we’re nice. And also, that niceness seems to actually work for us. It not only fills them with envy, it invalidates their entire worldview. Who places more of a premium on cynical sophistication than the French? Seeing something that doesn’t quite jibe with their
jaundiced worldview gives them an ear-bleeding level of anxiety and disorientation.
“Visit France, this summer! Tip well, be polite, and attempt to speak their language! Act like it’s no big deal that they’ve never done a single good thing for us. Show that we have nothing but goodwill for every smelly, wine-swilling coward in their entire nation. Say something like, ‘I really like you guys. I really do!’ with all the American earnestness and good-humor you can muster. “ That was signed, “Paul Bibeau,” who added “I know, it’s a frog name. But I’m American, dammit.”
John Carter advocated a more vigorous approach:“I say we send over 2 divisions of Cub Scouts, armed with water pistols and rubber band guns to occupy Paris. Chirac will be banished to EuroDisney.”
A correspondent who signs himself “Captain Radium” reached back to the French wine blight of the 1880s, when the French wine industry had to save itself with – you guessed it – American aid: To qualify for entry into the U.S. market, he suggests “all French wines must add to their label: ‘This wine made possible by the use of hearty American rootstocks.’”
Commander Steven Vanderplas of the U.S. Coast Guard proposes massive retaliation: “Air drop McDonald’s gift certificates and EuroDisney discount coupons . . . Radio Free France broadcasts of Rush Limbaugh . . . Dump Sunny Delight and Velveeta on the market . . . Threaten an Eminem world tour.”
Richard Tucker of Charleston, South Carolina, says that we should punish France by giving them what they say they want: respect for their standing as a component part of a united Europe:
“Forget their time table, immediately recognize the European Union as a sovereign nation.
“Downgrade every Embassy to a Consulate in the EU member countries that did not sign the letter of support to the US on Iraq. (It’s a ‘phased’ approach to establishing diplomatic ties to the new EU.
“Designate the U.S. Belgian Embassy as the U.S. Embassy to the EU.
“Close all the US Embassies of said countries; give 30 days to leave the US or apply for visas. Recognize the Greek Ambassador as the EU representative until the EU can appoint a permanent one.
“Declare null and void all bilateral agreements with France, Germany, and Belgium. State we are open to renewing said agreements with the EU on a case-by-case basis. (Yes, yes, yes, we’ll get around to treating all member states the same; It’s the same ‘phased’ approach.)
“Move that all EU members’ delegations in the UN General Assembly be combined into one seat. Revoke diplomatic immunity for said delegations and impound their property until they pay all their parking tickets.”
Pat Pellegrino quips that we should cease recognizing France’s“force de frappe” as an independent nuclear arsenal: “Only the French could make a nuclear strike force sound like a milkshake.”
John Marovich of the University of Chicago suggests a traveling exhibit on the military history of France: “Great publicity and lots of laughs.”
Michael Becker of Scottsdale, Arizona, calls for an American boycott of the Paris Air Show. (Unfortunately, the main impact of this measure would fall on junketing U.S. Congresspersons.)
Robert Faust in Minnesota spoke for many: “Twice in the 20th century Americans spilled large quantities of their blood on French soil to save and liberate a country which did a damned poor job of defending themselves. And they want to lecture us on the steps that should be taken to deal with dictators, despots, and tyrants?”
Attorney John Vecchione here in Washington, D.C. sighed: “Jeez, I miss the Louis. France may be the only country in the world to achieve greatness under absolute monarchy and to decline immeasurably when the people are heeded.”
Gregory Taylor of Northwestern Law School focused on the French threats to Bulgarian and Romania. “President Bush should unveil a statue honoring Vassil Levski and Ion Gramada, respectively Bulgarian and Romanian national heroes. And then admit them to the North American Free Trade Agreement.”
Daniel Foty backs up Taylor by noting the heroic words of Bulgarian Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi to France’s threats: “We all remember the hesitancy of the Allies, who weren’t sure whether to attack Hitler. They could have prevented so much. We’re in a situation where we have a moral imperative to act and act now.”
My fellow NRO contributing editor, the brilliant Deroy Murdock, had this to offer: “President Bush should appoint Jerry Lewis United States Ambassdor to France. Ambassador Lewis can read President Jacques Chirac the riot act. If that doesn’t work, Chirac will endure the discomfort of having to unveil his corrosive policies directly to the American who the French most admire. That ought to hurt. It will be, as the French say, to ache.”
A reader named Scot from the BellSouth network urged that we take immediate steps to verify that France is not assisting Libya and Iran: “Send Blix to Paris!”
Reed Snellenberger wants to retaliate against the French aerospace industry.
“Find some reasons (there’s always some) to look into:
“* Air France resumption of Concorde flights (‘We are concerned…’)
“* The AA 587 crash investigation – it was an Airbus 300 whose tail fell off. (‘We are concerned…’)”
Ryan Riggs of Texas sifts through the alternatives:
“I would say invade them, but they’ll give up faster than an Iraqi encampment to a CNN news crew.
“I would then suggest sending over some liberals to ruin their country, but they already beat us to it.
“We should simply follow through with the words of President Bush, ‘we shall make no distinction between the terrorists, and those who harbor them.’”
One final entry, the most sombre of them all: “I propose sending the French an expensive collage of all the French and French-American citizens murdered in the WTC, the Pentagon and other terrorist attacks here and in France. I lost such a one on 9/11, and such a monument would be the only thing that would ever again draw me to Paris.” Signed, “Gerald B. Shea, Esq., Cambridge, Massachusetts.”