02 November 2010

Oh, the people you'll meet and the places you'll go...on the Internet

If you don't follow Aaron Ellis of Thinking Strategically and Xavier Rauscher of The International Jurist, you should.  Both have a brilliant take on foreign policy, and both are an incredible credit to their respective nations.

The only problem, of course, is that Aaron Ellis is from Britain and Xavier Rauscher is from France.  True to form, they often have their bouts, usually concerning the state of geopolitical affairs in the European Union.  (In fairness, though, they collaborate quite often)  Thus, I've amused myself through more than one PowerPoint briefing by reading through their well-reasoned vitriol, spewed forth 140 characters at a time on Twitter.  In fact, I think I have a video of them in action:

Indeed, even when faced with news that their respective countries may be cultivating a "special relationship" of their own, they still threated to re-fight the Battle of Agincourt.  On Twitter.  I should also note that Xavier did have the quote of the day when he brought the Germans into the debate:

I should tread lightly, as I have to weigh my loyalty towards my British friends--the Kings of War in particular--and my Francophonic friends from Ink Spots as well as Cyrille from TDL News.  As a Yank, I have to appreciate the relationship the US has enjoyed with each country throughout the years.

Winston Churchill referred to a "special relationship" between the US and Britain, referring to the solidarity, forged through common struggles and a similar cultural heritage.  Britain has stood by America's side even during the unpopular war in Iraq, and continues to fight arduously in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  Likewise, the US has reciprocated by standing shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the British during the Suez, the Falklands, and the Second World War Second World War from 1941 onwards.

Similarly, America owes quite a debt to the French.  One of America's most enduring symbols, the Statue of Liberty, was a gift to the American government from France.  And let's not forget that America would not exist if it weren't for military assistance from France during the American Revolution and the War of 1812.  And, of course, America thanks the French by referring to "French Fries" as "Freedom Fries".

We truly are a nation of irritating douche bags.  I don't know if we're too ignorant to notice, or simply too obnoxious to care.

But I digress.  Both Britain and France have announced a new era of defense cooperation.  And though we've joked before about their lack of cooperation in the past, it seems as if they truly might be entering an enduring partnership.

Yet, there are still a few drawbacks.  While the two have a plan to share their three combined aircraft carriers, the plan is hardly foolproof.  Of the three carriers between the two nations, the nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle is the most impressive warship, though she has been plagued with maintenance problems since her launch in 1999.  Originally scheduled to serve a four-month tour of duty in the Indian Ocean to fight piracy, was forced to return to port after encountering a maintenance problem shortly after leaving port in Toulon, France.

As always, Small Wars Journal has great links on the subject, and the gang at Taches d'Huile has some keen insights as well.  Drop by each site and weigh in on the debate.

Finally, Aaron, Xavier:  while we're in Europe, we need to meet and enjoy a nice lager together, and maybe some fish and chips.  Or a robust French wine.

Fuck, I hate international relations.


Xavier Rauscher said...

Many thanks for such a flattering post, and flattering words.

A few words on today's treaties (there were two, if I read the news correctly): as far as I'm concerned, a very good thing, strengthening European cooperation on defence has always been something I considered as a neglected priority.

I have to admit I'm somewhat surprised by the general surprise: sure, France and the UK have their share of differences - historically, culturally, strategically - but people tend to forget that from 1830 to 1956, the two countries had a strong and enduring alliance, with the notable exception of the Fashoda incident in 1898. Luckily for Europe, the two colonial powers did not go to war then because one of them, France, was in a state of near civil war over the honor of some dude called Alfred Dreyfus...

And indeed, we will have to meet up some time - Europe is not that huge!

Xavier Rauscher said...

Oh, I forgot to add, regarding the "We truly are a nation of irritating douche bags. I don't know if we're too ignorant to notice, or simply too obnoxious to care."

That applies to the French as well. One day, I'll tell you all you need to know about how the French and the Americans are more similar than either would care to think.