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The Gallic Rooster Crows Again

The Paradox of French Anti-Americanism

Richard Kuisel

Abstract

“Those damned French!” That was President Eisenhower’s reaction back in 1954 when the French National Assembly killed an American-sponsored scheme for a European defense force.1 Almost 50 years later, Senator John McCain, in an off-the-cuff remark during the election primary last year, referred to a minor diplomatic dustup as “one of the many reasons I hate the French.”2 In Washington today such language, at least voiced by officials in public, is extremely rare. But the French, inadvertently to be sure, often seem to provide ample cause for such antipathy. Today, as in the early years of the cold war, the French have taken the lead in bashing the United States.

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