Emmanuel Macron is making a major trip to Washington this week at a time when relations between France and the United States are on the decline. Issues such as the role of the United States in the war in Ukraine, its benefits from the energy and economic crisis from this conflict or multimillion-dollar subsidies for the green transition have alienated partners from the European Union, and especially Paris. traditional allies such as the United States.
Relating to the origins of the United States of America as a nation, since France was one of the colonists’ greatest allies in achieving independence from the United Kingdom. An event that led to relatively amicable relations during the 19th century and even during the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte, France sold the Louisiana Territory for $23 million, something that allowed the United States to double its size .
Some examples of this relationship are that the United States never went to war with France or that in 1886 France gifted the country the Statue of Liberty, one of its greatest symbols. Attitudes that made them allies with common interests changed with the advent of the 20th century, especially when Europe entered the conflict in 1914. Although the United States was initially neutral, in 1917 it entered the war to protect interests . United Kingdom and France against Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. An aid that was needed to achieve victory in 1918.
The United States supported France in both world wars.
This support made former President Woodrow Wilson a very popular figure in France, although the positions of the United States and France were actually opposed during the peace settlement, as Paris demanded greater harshness against Germany. Will force this country to pay all the expenses. War and weakening it in the future. a norm that would lead Germany into a deep economic and political crisis that would years later lead to the rise of Nazism.
During the period between the wars, the United States was in charge of providing arms to France in the face of the growing threat from Adolf Hitler’s Germany. But this help came too late as World War II began, with France collapsing before Germany’s advance in June 1940.
At that time, the United States was not part of the world war, but as soon as it entered it in 1941, it became actively involved in the fight against Nazism in Europe and Vichy France, a puppet regime in Berlin. The United States helped members of the Free French to regain their country in 1944 after the Normandy landings, and was once again instrumental to France and the United Kingdom in their victory against Nazi Germany in 1945.
Furthermore, after the war, the United States helped with reconstruction. It is estimated that the North American nation provided around $5,000 million in loans and subsidies at the time, of which $2,300 million was invested in non-refundable funds, something that made France the most benefited from the Marshall Plan. Made it the second country to do it.
France, a NATO ally that disagreed with the US leadership
Thus France became a part of the Western bloc during the Cold War. Both nations positioned themselves as allies against the Soviet Union and were founding members of organizations such as NATO. Within this alliance, however, the United States maintained a number of inconsistencies regarding France’s role with its colonies. and even led to a crisis in 1956, when the United Kingdom, France, and Israel invaded Egypt after Egypt’s nationalization of the Suez Canal, and the United States asked all three countries to stop their attacks. Compelled to.
These disagreements escalated after the coming to power of Charles de Gaulle, who wanted to develop his own nuclear program, which did not have Washington’s approval. De Gaulle was opposed to the United States being the dominant power in the West, seeing that France was being abandoned.
In his effort to create an independent defensive force, de Gaulle removed France from NATO’s military command and expelled coalition troops from his country. a situation that strained relations with the United States, although France’s final departure from the military organization never occurred.
21st century controversies
Over the next three decades, relations between the two countries improved, although this saw France show interest in leading the European Union project together with Germany. In fact, tensions did not return until 2003, when then-French President Jacques Chirac refused to send troops to the Iraq War initiated by George Bush.
The issue started a boycott campaign against French products in the United States, which was extended even to French fries, as Americans called them ‘french fries’ – French potatoes – to ‘freedom fries’ – freedom potatoes.
And although in general terms the two countries have common objectives, such as the fight against terrorism, in recent years relations have again become difficult for various reasons. Some of them are the progressive deterioration of relations between former President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron or the most recent role of the United States – already with Biden in power – in the war in Ukraine.
To these issues must be added the crisis that arose after the ratification of the AUKUS military agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia in late 2021, which gave the latter nation the ability to assemble nuclear submarines. A deal that seriously compromised France’s economic interests in this case with Australia, and which neither Paris nor the EU knew about until it became public.
The issue led to Elysium ordering the withdrawal of its ambassadors to the United States and Australia as a protest measure and triggered the biggest diplomatic crisis between the two countries in more than two decades.
France is one of Europe’s biggest defenders of economic and military independence in relation to the United States, which is why Macron is a great defender of building a European military and a fierce critic of $369 billion in green subsidies to companies Are. by Joe Biden. A strategy that Europe claims hurts its products and which, added to higher US fuel prices, could lead to a transatlantic trade war.