Fascination and rejection have always characterized Franco-American relations, like an old couple who are not able to forgive: for France, the battle of Yorktown where Lafayette and Rochambeau contributed to the independence of the former British colonies; for the United States, American participation, twice, in the liberation of France. Neither one willing to credit its salvation to the other. A tumultuous relationship very much resembling the rocky history of the Statue of Liberty ("Liberty Enlightening the World"), offered by a still fragile Republic to a distant sister, who only begrudgingly offered it a pedestal. For centuries French literature has been rich in lessons on this subject: from Tocqueville's wonderment and the anti-Americanism of Baudelaire, Loti, Renan, Maurras, and many others, to Victor Hugo's prediction of indestructible ties between a United States of Europe and the United States of America. In fact, these troubled relations also resemble those between the United States and Europe. America, Europe's child, has always sought to emancipate itself, while Europe, it seems, does not want to admit that the child that it carried to maturity might be more successful than it and might seek to tell it how to behave. This sentiment is evident in both European and American literature, particularly in the works of James Fennimore Cooper and Mark Twain, which unceasingly highlight the disparities between the Old World and the New. Have these divergences, which after all are quite natural given the inevitable conflicts of interest between Europe and the United States-and between France and the United States-reached a breaking point since the American invasion of Iraq? Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and even more since September 11th, is not America seeking to "start the world anew" (to borrow words from Thomas Paine) in its own image? Are we witnessing a "continental drift," accompanied by a lasting antagonism between the United States and France? In this three-way relationship-France/European Union/United States-where France is seeking international stature, the European Union a European identity, and the United States a world mission-French policy goals are marked by their continuity (as is also true for the United States). If the world has changed, France's two priorities since the commencement of the European project remain unchanged. What Europe for France? France continues to want to make Europe into a European Europe, not an Atlanticist Europe, but a Europe that is emancipated from the United States. Europe for what? France wants to make Europe a Europe a la francaise, a French style Europe, which would be an enlarged extension of France, increasing its influence on the international stage and providing a counterweight to the United States, today's hyper power.
France, Europe, The United States,
Me. L. Rev.
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