Anti-Americanisms in France

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Author: Sophie Meunier
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Why do the French appear as incorrigible anti-Americans? Why is France singled out as a bastion of systematic opposition to US policies? Anti-Americanism can be defined as an unfavorable predisposition towards the United States, which leads individuals to interpret American actions through pre-existing views and negative stereotypes, irrespectively of the facts. It is based on a belief that there is something fundamentally wrong at the essence of what is America. This unfavorable predisposition manifests itself in beliefs, attitudes and rhetoric, which may or may not affect political behavior. Is France, according to this definition, anti-American? It is difficult in practice to distinguish between genuine anti-Americanism (disposition) and genuine criticism of the United States (opinion). It is partly because of this definitional ambiguity that France appears more anti-American than its European partners. While it is not clear that the French have a stronger negative predisposition against the US, they do have stronger opinions about America for at least three main reasons: the deep reservoir of anti-American arguments accumulated over the centuries; the simultaneous coexistence of a variety of types of anti-Americanism; and the costless ways in which anti-Americanism has been used for political benefit. This article explores each of these three features in turn, before discussing briefly the consequences of French anti-Americanism on world politics.

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