Highly emotional States:French-US Relations and the Iraq war

Gaffney, John Highly emotional States:French-US Relations and the Iraq war. European Security, 13 (3), pp. 247-272.

Abstract

Understanding the true nature of the relations between France and the United States is central to an understanding of the diplomatic crisis that broke out between them in 2003 over the War in Iraq. An analysis of the political cultures of France and the US offers considerable explanatory power to this dramatic diplomatic dispute. The inordinately emotional aspects of the Franco-US arguments of 2003 mask the fact that the two countries understand each other little. In the French case, its self-view and related diplomatic comportment in the twentieth century was informed by its relationship to Germany; and from it a range of cultural characteristics emerged, among them: vulnerability, self-regard, a romanticized view of itself, and the personalization of national identity. At the moment France’s response to its cultural heritage was beginning to shift to a different (post-Gaullist) paradigm, the dispute with the US erupted.

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