The Sore Frenchman Syndrome - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

The Sore Frenchman Syndrome

The French are in a right state over the AUKUS deal made between the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Even the ordinary Frenchman is saying, “These Anglo-Saxons have done it again!” They consider the Australians scrapping their 2016 electric-powered submarine deal with France as a brand-new “Anglo-Saxon game.” After deeming their submarine accord as the “Deal of the Century,” putting this agreement out to pasture symbolizes a national humiliation for France’s part. 

The term “Anglo-Saxon” is a metaphor for a “different breed” to the French. Using this very term, they differentiate between themselves and the rest of the Anglo-Saxon world. For the everyday Frenchman- or woman- this term also has an underlying hint of contempt toward the British. Most of the French define the Anglo-Saxons as “arrogant,” “cold” and “snobbish.” Hence, this term can sometimes allude to a deeper insult.

Even though the French and British have built alliances every now and then, it was always the British who emerged the more advantageous. With its 300-year history, the term actually plays a “key” role in deciphering the relationship between the two. As fate would have it, one French and one British historian, Isabelle Tombs and  Roberts Tombs, published quite an instructive yet sarcastic and amusing work of art called, “That Sweet Enemy: Britain and France.” As you might have deduced from their identical surnames, according to this couple, the relationship between the Anglo-Saxons and the French on both sides of the pond was a cycle of love, hatred, jealousy, distrust, and admiration.

With the AUKUS Pact, the Anglo-Saxon term has once more been put into circulation. Towards the end of the Second World War, Charles De Gaulle, one of the French’s most famed national leaders, deemed it as a betrayal on the part of the English when he wasn’t invited to attend the leaders’ summit at Yalta on Feb. 4-11, 1945. The summit took place between U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin. De Gaulle described not being invited to this historic summit as a "conspiracy."

According to the French, the AUKUS Pact is a stab in the back by the Anglo-Saxons. Currently, the French media has launched a harsh tirade against both the U.K. and U.S. 

Some U.S. analysts are concerned that AUKUS has strengthened the hand of anti-American neo-Gaullists in the French Foreign Ministry. Many are of the opinion that reactions against AUKUS could even kickstart “neo-Gaullism 2.0” in France. Furthermore, the French might make it very difficult for the U.S. to profit from its diplomatic victory of AUKUS. 

 The English on the other side of the channel, naturally, disagree. Hugh Schofield’s September 19 report on BBC News titled “Aukus pact delivers France some hard truths” only served to provoke the anger of the French. According to Schofield, the French should have learned some “cruel verities” from the AUKUS pact. “Number one: there is no sentiment in geostrategy.” In other words, they should have realized that France was too small to stand alone as a major obstacle to strategic issues in the Indo-Pacific. According to the author, Australia made the conscious choice to be close to a great power (the U.S.) and not a small one (France). Schofield suggests that rather than making a fuss, the French should “keep open a doorway to the British.”

New Caledonia in the Pacific and French Polynesia are located between the overseas territories of France. Within this context, France argues that it is an established power in the Indo-Pacific. Therefore, America and its junior partner Britain reducing France to the level of “neutral element” in the Indo-Pacific is considered a “complete humiliation” for the French. 

According to Renaud Girard of Le Figaro, France has unprecedentedly been betrayed by its allies, and it will not soon forget it. Girard went on to say that President Macron has exerted great efforts to help the Anglo-Saxons; that France proved it was a “true ally” to America and the United Kingdom in Afghanistan; and with the Australians in the Indo-Pacific. Furthermore, he highlighted that in exchange for all these efforts, France was virtually treated like a dog.

Isn’t it ironic that France, which has not acted in the spirit of allies in its relations with Turkey and went as far as to undermine Ankara’s national interests in the East Mediterranean, is now preaching on the loyalties of allies? 


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