Miller Watch (Resumed): Is France Really Our Enemy?


John J. Miller
was described as “the most
unscrupulous of contemporary immigration enthusiasts”
by Peter Brimelow in the
new
Afterword to Alien Nation
because of his
uninhibited habit of simply lying about statistics and
what his opponents were actually saying. Miller`s hiring
by National Review immediately after John
O`Sullivan firing as editor in 1999 was a clear sign
that owner William F. Buckley had

caved
on immigration reform. At VDARE.COM, we
started a

“Miller Watch”
series to keep him line. We
succeeded too well, because he stopped writing about
immigration altogether. Now it appears he has
transferred his technique to diplomatic history.

One word I can think of to describe
Miller and Mark Molesky`s book

Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America`s Disastrous
Relationship With France
is vulgar.
Another is naïve. Still another is just plain silly.
[Vdare.com Note:
Foreign Affairs
Magazine likes "shoddy
and biased
"
]

Miller and his

co-author
(an old school chum who teaches history at
Seton Hall University), are very angry with France and
with the French. The

proximate reason is
President Chirac`s opposition to
the Iraq War. An amazing list of more distant reasons is
also adduced, ranging from the French-Indian Wars of the
late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the

XYZ
and
Citizen Genet
Affairs of the 1790s, Napoleon`s
insults to the young American republic, Napoleon III`s
contemplated support of the Confederacy and his invasion
of Mexico (perhaps if he`d won, the Border Patrol would
today be arresting Frenchmen in berets along the
U.S.-Mexican border?), Clemenceau`s bamboozling of
President Wilson
at

Versailles
,

Jean-Paul Sartre
,

Charles De Gaulle
, and

Deconstructionism
.

Only at the conclusion of the book,
with its coy references to the French people`s

“historic levels of anti-Semitic sentiment”
and
the French government`s failure “to

grapple
with a rising tide of

anti-Semitic sentiment,
are we given a hint at
what is

really eating the
authors.

Miller and Molesky have chosen such
a long and improbable way around to make their point
(somewhat on the order of attacking Iraq in order to
defend the United States) that somehow we have ceased to
care when finally they get around to it.

Like

An End to Evil
by Richard Perle and
Miller`s colleague at National Review,

David Frum,
Our Oldest Enemy comes just a few
months too late to deliver whatever conviction it might
ever have carried. Trying to make Jacques Chirac a
villain when he deserves rather to be treated as a
prophet and a hero, having his health toasted in
Beaujolais nouveau
from the Azores to the Danube, is
as absurd as it is childish.

There are no demonstrations in
Paris or Berlin demanding that the French and German
governments revisit their decision against sending
troops to reinforce President Bush`s Grand Coalition in
Iraq. On the contrary, Spain`s conservative government
has been

ousted
for signing on with the United States,

Berlusconi`s
in Italy is threatened, and Tony
Blair`s is a shambles.

If anything remains to be said
about M. Chirac in this regard, it is that he has
behaved in a gentlemanly way during the course of the
American debácle in Iraq, never once giving rein to what
must be the certain temptation to say, “I told you
so.”
For some people, it seems, civility is simply
not an ordeal.  

Meanwhile, concerning this
“oldest enemy”
business, a few thoughts at random:

  • Our oldest enemy, even by
    Miller`s & Molesky`s account, is not the French; it is
    the

    American Indian.

  • France in the colonial period,
    and during the

    American Revolution
    , was not fighting Americans or
    America, as such: It was fighting its centuries-old
    enemy—England—and the

    Empire
    the British

    had created.

France was, in fact,

playing
what came in the late nineteenth century to
be called the Great Game. (Miller & Molesky admit as
much in their discussion of

France`s role in aiding the American revolutionists
.)
If the authors believe the World`s Sole Superpower they
are eager to defend at every turn is not engaged today
in a Great Game of its own, they have no business
writing about world politics at all.

  • Our first enemy – after the

    Noble Red Man
    , of course—was our parent people,
    the British. They not only interfered as often as the
    French in the affairs of our young republic for a
    century following independence (they fought an

    actual war with us
    in 1812), but who condescended
    to and insulted us equally.

Molesky & Miller are offended by a
nineteenth-century French author who described Americans
as

“a
people of ignorant shopkeepers and narrow-minded
industrialists, who do not have on the whole surface of
their continent a single work of art…who do not have in
their libraries a single science book not written by the
hand of a foreigner; who do not have a single social
institution not patterned after an ancient one, and
constituting a flagrant rebuttal of the Christian
principle it pretends to emulate.”

Well, well; fighting words to be
sure. But for a truly effective putdown of the
American people in the first half of the nineteenth
century, however, one ought to consult
Domestic
Manners of the Americans
by Frances Trollope (mother
of Anthony). Her English hauteur and disdain
remains unmatched by any Frenchie I know of.

While the French elite may have had
little affection or respect for the United States, the
same was true of all the other aristocratic European
powers.

  • Our Oldest Enemy seems to
    be arguing that France in the twentieth century, and
    particularly in that century`s second half, has been
    the enemy of American culture (Sartre, Derrida,
    Deconstruction, and all that). Insofar as M&M have a
    point, however, it is that France in this respect has
    been the enemy of Western civilization.

Admittedly, France has harbored a
special animus against the United States for having
pioneered mass culture. But who can blame it?

  • Molesky & Miller seem to me to
    have missed the essential point: the French have never
    liked, nor really behaved well toward, anybody.

Nothing personal—or discriminatory!
They have just always regarded

la France
as being truly God`s country,
and French culture as the residuum of every noble and
civilized element in history, like the

Heavy Dragoon in
Gilbert & Sullivan`s Patience.

And who are Miller & Molesky to
complain?

  • Finally, Our Oldest Enemy
    keeps returning to a dominant leitmotif – the
    evilness of France`s revolutionary Enlightenment
    tradition. Of course, the United States has an
    Enlightenment tradition of its own; one, moreover,
    that is growing more and more

    Jacobin
    in its fervor and content. But Miller &
    Molesky don`t get it.

The Girondins, they charge,
“subscribed to the very immoderate program of
overthrowing monarchs everywhere. Their slogan was `War
with all kings and peace with all peoples.`”

Elsewhere, M&M mock the French
belief in France`s ability to change the world.

Here is a spectacular example of
how fanaticism blinds men to themselves, as well as to
other men.

Neocons
are supposed to be smarter than the rest of
us. But do they really know what they are saying most of
the time? In respect of the Iraq War, John Miller and
Mark Molesky—not the much-maligned Jacques Chirac—have
identified themselves as ideological heirs of the
Girondins. 

But at least the Girondins were
French patriots. In urging on an imperial war, while
simultaneously supporting nation-dissolving immigration
at home, M&M raise real questions as to where their own
loyalties lie.



Chilton Williamson Jr.
[email
him
] is the author of

The Immigration Mystique: America`s False Conscience

and an editor and columnist for


Chronicles
Magazine, where he writes The Hundredth
Meridian column about life in the Rocky Mountain West.



His
latest book is


The Conservative Bookshelf: Essential Works That Impact
Today`s Conservative Thinkers
.