Born in 1960 Pierre-Yves Dugua has degrees from the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris (known as Sciences Po) and from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Both French and American, he has resided in Washington, D.C., for more than 20 years. He is an economics correspondent in the United States for the daily newspaper Le Figaro, and his reporting is heard daily on French radio channels Radio France and Radio France Internationale.
The Factors Contributing to Tensions Between France and the United States
In Pierre-Yves Dugua’s view, France is among the few countries remaining which defines itself by its universal ambition, an aim abandoned by all the other European countries. The French desire to have an international influence comes up against the ambitions of the « American model » at every turn.
The friction between the two models is that much greater today because France has lost its rank as the leading European power and refuses to admit it. Conversely, the «American model» is also in crisis, and the Bush administration refuses to admit that.
The disturbing development of the crisis in Iraq shows to what extent the two countries are following different paths. In essence, France was right in believing that toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime would present more problems than it would resolve. But by giving the impression of federating nations like Syria, Russia and China against the United States in order to block American intervention, France has undermined its special relationship with America for a long time to come.
Having been essentially correct has not enabled France to enjoy increased credit among the opponents of President Bush’s policy. Moreover, the political exploitation of anti-Americanism in France has reached a point where it becomes difficult to return to a calmer atmosphere of cooperation on the enormous problems facing the two countries. The mutual, personal distrust between presidents Bush and Chirac are eroding relations between Washington and Paris, at least they have been doing so, leading up to the presidential elections in France in spring 2007.
France’s profound identity crisis complicates things. For at least 20 years France has benefited from the enlargement of Europe by making a sounding board out of the European Union for its foreign policy.
Today, this enlargement, on the contrary, is diluting French power.
This will be the case as long as the setback of the constitutional referendum in 2005 prevents France from taking a leadership role in the new European bloc.
And the result of all this? France has never spoken out so strongly, but it no longer speaks just for itself. Its permanent membership in the Security Council has become an anachronism, but it allows it to block American initiatives, which no other European ally dares to do.
Domestically, the failure of the French «social model,» created as an alternative to American capitalism, also detracts from the credibility of the universal ambitions of France. In the cultural and economic spheres France is often at the forefront of endeavors against American interests. Of special note, and unlike other European nations, is the particular make up of French exports, in direct competition with those of the United.
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