Responding to:”Remember the French” [Archives:2003/649/Opinion]

July 10 2003

James Willaman
[email protected]

In response to your article “Remember the French”, I would like to bring a few things to the attention of the Yemen Times.
The invaluable French aid, without which Americans would now be singing “Rule Britannia”, was granted to the struggling colonies not out of goodwill or because of superior French morality. The French helped us because they loathed the English who they had been at war with more or less since there were places called “France” and “England”.
The two super powers at the time of what we call our War For Independence, France and England, used the American Revolution much as the United States and the Soviet Union used the revolutions in Latin America and South East Asia during the Cold War. These conflicts were a way to fight, by proxy and at reduced expense, your long time adversary.
I don't mean to sound cynical, but can you imagine, or give me a historical example, of a nation extending considerable economic and military aid to another nation for no geopolitical, defensive, or economic reason. Has it ever happened?
Did Nasser interfere with your nation's internal affairs purely out of goodwill? Or, did he, perhaps, have an ulterior motive? An Egyptian national interest? Say, perhaps, creating a mini Nasserite empire ala the Soviet dominated Eastern Europe?
Even Bush's current push for aid for Africa, which I applaud, is rooted in geopolitics as is American foreign aid in general. This motivation is not bad, nor does it diminish the resultant support America, and the West, lends to the third world. This is not evil or selfish; it is just the truth.
The truth is that a unstable world is bad for business, diplomacy, and national security. The truth is that an unstable world, an impoverished, war ravaged, and disease ridden world breads misery and hopelessness. The truth is that misery and hopelessness, in turn, create terrorism, fascism, totalitarianism, war lordism… all the bad ism's we have been battling for the past century.
But, lets not kid ourselves. We help, the West helps the third world because it is our own best interest to do so. And, just like the French aid to my nation during its difficult birth, the current French aid to Africa is not some towering act of humanity, but a simple human act of self protect, laudable for its foresightedness not for its altruism.
So, yes I thank France for using my country because without its aid, whatever its reasons for grant it, my nation would not exist as it does now.