For MEB, forever, mons enfants.
It's been popular for a long time to bash the French in America, and vice versa, maybe if usually harmlessly so, if not completely either.
As to the American side of that, factually speaking the French had no more difficulty, or less, with the Germans militarily the last hundred and forty years than anyone else. There were just more Germans than French, in the end.
As to why some of this acrimony over the years has been silly, France is and has been an important part of that alliance system called NATO, like Germany, as to why if we have a lot of differences with the French, and vice versa, they have always remained allies, if of a somewhat touchy kind at times, probably because of La Gloire, glory.
The Germans didn't get that experience so much, mainly because they united late in history, if the future of course will have very much a Germanic one, mixed with the many different countries, cultures and languages in the European project, maybe the best gloire of all, as its a peaceful and cooperative one.
Someday we in America may well know what it is like to have once been far more powerful in the world than we are now.
We Americans are whippersnappers and Innocents Abroad in the grand scheme of things, if we too have our version of La Gloire, Le Mission Civilatrice, things that of course can be ideals clashing harshly with local realities. If there is folly in that at times, bowling in Baghdad, there is honor too, as no civilization worthy of its name does not think it has something to offer outside of itself, if at times of course that is a source of conflict too.
One can see that now as to shadows at work in Mali, as to the French having a deep national committment to a sense of being more than just a nice tourist destination in Europe; vive la gloire.
If you as a people aren't willing to fight for a sense of mission,or at least work in a common pursuit of mission, does it not reduce your sense of being a people?
That would seem to be the case, even as if everyone did that, it would of course be a recipe for the endless wars that have marked the human condition too. With gloire, perhaps there is also a sense of the tragic too, if Americans by temperment seem unwilling to see that, relatively happy innocent optimists that we remain at heart, as President Obama says, a nation with limitless possibilities, our version of La Gloire.
As to current events in Mali, French involvement in West and North Africa of course is longstanding, as to a sense of mission, once known as la mission civilatrice.
If it has always had material components, like the current concerns that should Mali fall under Islamic fundamentalists that would be bad news for radicalized immigrants in Europe, encourage conflict among the oil and gas fields of Algeria, and provide access for Muslim fanatics to the uranium mines of Niger, among other considerations not particularly at variance with American interests as usually conceived, la gloire, la mission civilatrice, has been and still is very much a part of things too.
History keeps on imparting what residues it has, often very deep ones, come what people want or think as to everything being new, one of which in this case has important diplomatic and military implication in the ongoing French protection mission in Mali that tie logically to Libya, namely the status of the Tuaregs.
The French of course are very familiar with the Berber, not Arab, people known as the Tuarag, as when the Legionaires ventured as Beau Geste into the Sahara, the Tuaregs were a main source of battle.
It was all very Beau Geste, of Legionaires marching into the Sahara to fight camel nomad Tuaregs wielding broadswords. If subdued, with the rise of nation states in the wake of the end of colonialism in the early 1960s, the Tuareg issue came immediately into play, since the popularity of national boundaries doesn't sit well with nomadism, not unlike the difficulties, and charms, of the Beduwee in Arabia.
One pronounces it Beduwee, and is that not charming in one sense, to be a nomad in our increasingly civilized world, so boxed up neatly?
That is the case, as to another version of La Gloire, even as practically speaking nomadism in contemporary times has many issues, which can be seen in the tie of events in Mali and the terrorist attack in Algeria to the shadow of Qadhafi.
Sitting himself on regional and tribal powderkegs, including the identification of the southwestern Libyan province of Fezzan, where the Algerian attack commenced, Qadhafi had to play complex games of balancing various powers.
One method he used was to pay Tuaregs in need of money, nomadism having difficulties in the modern world doing that, as mercenaries.
They weren't Arab, and had no tie to anything but Qadhafi, which made them both loyal and trustworthy to him, and feared and hated by coastal Libyans.
When he fell, they were among the first to become the long shadow of his rule.
Fleeing into the desert, while liberating weapons, Northern Mali was a logical place to move, just as in such a situation it was de-stabilizing.
Thus, current events were set in motion in Mali by the fall of Qadhafi, if in the context of French interest of longstanding, one of which is a sense of mission, La Gloire.
France is an ally of longstanding, our first actually, and if we have had our tussles over the years, because of La Gloire, so long as we remember how this came to pass, in terms of shadows of the past, supporting the French in Mali is in American interest, conceived narrowly in material terms, and in terms of our own versions of Mission Civilatrice and La Gloire, even as such shadows tell us that the possibilities aren't in fact limitless, if there is honor in carefully acting if that is not so too.