How am I not surprised this question was asked by anonymous from somewhere?

Where should I start?
Exactly how France has been “historically ungrateful”? What does “historically ungrateful” even mean?
France has been plenty grateful in more ways than the average American even knows (more on that in a few lines).
What do you want more?
When you help a friend, what do you expect from them afterwards?
Do you expect them to say thank you and that’s it?
Or do you expect them to be “historically grateful” and be your lackey forever after that?

Why should it be different between France and the US?
Because, yeah, for your information, and many Americans seems to have forgotten that fact (especially ignorant imperialist conservatives), France and America are friend countries.
France is even the only major European country that America has never been at war with (yes, there are countries that America has never been at war with… Not that many, but there are some…)
And that’s what friends do; they help each other when one of them needs help, without expecting anything in return.
So, I know that Bush tried to end that friendship (and for that too, he will never be forgiven) in 2003, thank god, he failed, and I remember back then all the retards that would go on about how France was just ungrateful to not be the US lackey, because America saved France during World War 2.
First, those people should learn the definition of “alliance”, and no, it doesn’t mean one country decides and the other ones say yes to everything.
Two, if that’s being ungrateful, if France should just have shut up and follow the US to Iraq (should I remind you who was right in 2003, or would that be too embarrassing for some?), what should the US do for France? Saving our butt in 1944 is just a beginning. Some people conveniently forget (or rather are so ignorant, they’re not even aware of that fact) that if the US even exist it’s thanks to France on so many level.
For your Bill of Rights, you can say a big thanks to the French Philosophers of the Enlightenment, and for your very independence, you can say thanks to France, without us, you’d still be the Western Colonies of England. (Whose statue is in front of the White House, by the way? It’s not Washington, it is Lafayette) Even DC was designed by a French architect (Pierre Charles L’Enfant). Should I mention the Statue of Liberty, too?

So if you think friendships and alliances are about debts and being “historically grateful”, I think D-Day and the Marshall Plan don’t even start covering the debt the US has towards France.

Now that this is out of the way, let’s see what happened exactly with the Marshall Plan, this act of selfless goodwill from the US to Western Europe, because I assume this is how many Americans see it, right?

So, sure, the Marshall Plan was designed to help Europe to recover from the War, no doubt about that. But it was not as selfless as some would like to think.
First, it allowed the US to restart its economy and industry and reshape it into a “normal” one after the war industry. The Marshall Plan allowed -among other things- to make the US the first economy of the world (remember that it was not before WW2).
Also, it happened at a time when relationships with the USSR were getting colder and colder, and the Marshall Plan was a way to keep Western Europe out of the Soviet Union sphere of influence and within the US one.
Finally, the Marshall Plan didn’t come for free. Thanks to several agreements (I’m thinking of the Blum-Byrnes one for example), many US companies could “invade” the European market (including the French one). Many of the products and brands one can find of both sides of the Atlantic come from these trade agreements, no such things as Coke or bubble gum in France before 1946 for example, the Marshall Plan came with an American economic invasion, which really Americanized Europe in many aspects (and helped the US economy becoming so powerful, to a certain extent at the expense of Western European economy).

So, please, give me a break with your neo-con pseudo-rhetoric and go learn history.

pixel Why have the French historically been so ungrateful for the support received under the Marshall Plan after World War II?

10 Responses to “Why have the French historically been so ungrateful for the support received under the Marshall Plan after World War II?”

  1. Not only a-historical but also blind to human reality: debtors and creditors are rarely friends, because the relationship is unequal. And a creditor who expects to be both loved and obeyed on the basis of the financial help is simply in la-la land. Not, as you say, that Marshall Aid was a free gift, and more than financial help from the IMF or World Bank has been to many countries. For the UK, too, financial rescue from the US in the 1940s came at a price.

  2. I’d be willing to bet that the moron who asked this question has never been to France.

  3. It was obviously an enquiry from an American; we have to be eternally grateful that they won the war for us……

  4. David - My apologies if my humour was too dry for you to understand. I’m well aware of the actual history. I’m also just as aware of the actual role of the U.S, Lendlease, and the endless diatribe that comes from most U.S. Citizens mouth’s on the subject. It’s not particularly their fault, as 1940′s songs, Hollywood movies and the school and government systems program them so. Albeit, one would think that they would, by now, have discovered what the rest of the World has always known, for themselves.
    When the new US administration took over in 1933, many outside observers believed that it would make sweeping changes to US foreign policy. Under the Republican Presidents of the 1920′s the US had held itself aloof from the World, engaging in many diplomatic conferences, tightening the stranglehold on the global economy that the US had achieved during WW1, but refusing to take any reeponsibility for World peace. After rejection of the Treaty of Versailles and The League of Nations by the Senate in 1919-20, the US dedeicated itself to a nationalistic foreign policy. Tarrifs were raised, payment of war debts demanded from WW1 Allies, and political gurantees and commitments adamantly avoided.
    Taking as their motto, what is good for the US is good for the World, the American people sipported a foreign policy of sefl-indulgence that reflected the hedonistic mood of the 1920s. When challenged by foreign critics, Americans could point to the Kellog-Briand Pact - the treaty which outlawed war, except in self-defence. The election of FDR marked the return to power of the party of Woodrwo Wilson, and thus seeemed to promise a break with the nationalism of the 1920s. Despite FDR’s career being supported by the internationlist ideals of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, as a typical aspiring poitician, FDR gradually shifted with the prevailing nationalist sentiment, and even against the international initiatives that would have almost certainly prevented another World War. His sentiments became obvious when he undermined the World Economic Conference in London in 1933, by refusing to agree to currency stabilisation.
    The came the further breakdown of World Trade, that was sparked by the ongoing Depression. Whe the Japanese succeeded in destroying the ‘American Open Door Policy’ in Asia, by their conquest of Manchuria, Pres. Herbert Hoover did little more than express moral dissaproval in support of China. Things became worse throughout the 1930s with Hitler eventually engaging in bellicose acts. This all reinforced the bizzare desire to stay aloof from an increasingly dangerous World situation.
    Americans suffered from a clear lack of leadership, and an ignorance to an essential requirement for their involvement in global diplomacy. Their hesitancy to apply their role as the then World leader, and the convenient facade of neutrality legislation undoubtedly added significantly to the onset of the war, and it’s deep severity.
    Perhaps the memory loss of the US, is a deliberate and convenient mechanism for their citizens, as if the US had only been a little less selfish, the incredible numbers who were sacrificed and who fought during WW2, Americans included, would have been saved. The triviality and deep ignorance of the Americans was shocking, and even went as far as refusing those such as Anne Frank and her family visa’s during the wars darkest hours.
    It is a shame that Americans, and astoundingly even American Jews who I’ve spoken with, no little of the real facts of WW2, as it it would have proven most useful in adding to their hitherto shallow, greedy depth of character.

  5. Rumpole,

    I’m an French resident… American citizen… I have not learned so much history since I was at school— university (UCSD rather) but it was mostly U.S. cultural history that I studied and world history…
    I am not sure if you are aware of this (but I doubt that you studied in the U.S. in primary school/middle school or even high school for that matter…
    Please be warned… our educational texts are HIGHLY biased (just like our news media) and I feel that we didn’t even learn the truth about history as it happened… Rather, we were fed what “they” (whoever “they” are) wanted us to learn… All in effort to make the U.S. look grand…

    David— I salute you - again- I have to sing your praises for really putting the info out there… along with your own pov added.. which is what I love most… I learn a lot just coming over here to see what you have commented…. I full-on agree with you…
    Do you know that I know a man in San Diego (I think he’s in his mid-late 70s) who blatantly told me about 2 years ago that “if it weren’t for the U.S., my husband would be speaking to me in German!” Yeh… he had the nerve!!! I’d love to see you go tête à tête with him one day…. I don’t really have anything to add here and I feel really lacking and nulle in the history dept…. but thanks Rumpole for your lengthy comment… It was very interesting to read!
    Take care,

  6. Leesa, thanks for the reply. I did in fact let you ‘off the hook’ somewhat when I stated - “It’s not particularly their fault, as 1940′s songs, Hollywood movies and the school and government systems program them so.”
    Although, perhaps I put the onus back on Americans when I then said “one would think that they would, by now, have discovered what the rest of the World has always known..”
    It is exasperating that most US Domiciled Americans still grab their convenient history from Hollywood etc, especially when a huge number have experienced university education.
    My own experience of the constant flag-waving and affirmations of “America is the Greatest Country in the World,” makes me sad for the people who believe this.
    The US has/had the capacity to be great, but lost the plot when it decided that the veneer was better than the Oak.
    You suspected correctly that I have never attended school here. I feel privileged that I didn’t. It’s astounding that, even at PhD and Post-Doctorate level, shallow intellect exsists, and without much intelligence.
    I wish that more of your fellow nationals were like you Leesa, it would mean a wealth of difference to the planet.

    David, thanks for such a great and open-minded blog. It’s a breath of fresh air in this world of spin-culture.

  7. it’s funny how in many ways we humans are so alike: we all like to point fingers and blame someone else for everything! it sickens me to hear my fellow americans blame france (or others, generally), including that groaningly stupid “freedom fries” nonsense in washington a few years ago…but i know i’m not alone in feeling ashamed of my countrymen, that probably the french, too, have their own idiocies they inflict on others when things go wrong… annoying the more refined thinkers among them. sheesh. we’re all pathethic! thanks for the post.

  8. I personally count myself “apart” from the rest of the American culture.. but hey.. That’s just me! I grew up in Hollywood and I think it had an effect on me.. I saw lots of weird things there when I was growing up in the 70s!! Plus.. I think that because of how my parents raised me… I was a bit different than the rest of mainstream society, anyhow….
    I have always had friends (most of them) from other countries and I loved to learn about other cultures and study languages… When I was 19 and lived in NZ and traveled through Oz for 2 months… I had really wanted to stay and live in Oz.. but my mind was open to the idea at around age 15 of leaving the U.S. to live in a different country…
    So, when I was busy being a rowdy, Cali beach girl teen … I was dreaming about my future life in a foreign country… Ta da!!!!!
    Hey.. I see good and bad in all… Nothing is perfect… no country is perfect… America just tends to flaunt itself shamelessly in front of the rest of the world to see… Funny… it’s such a Puritanical country, too…. You’d never see any nude boobies on regular tv…. and it really doesn’t phase me here in France… it’s just WAYYYY more prudish in the U.S.!!!!!

  9. When talking about WWII and France being ungrateful, I often wonder why nobody talks about the American betrayal of 1956.

    After all, this was the direct reason why France left NATO, kicked the Americans out and developed her own Nuclear deterrence

  10. Wow, just found this site, and I'm wasting all my time here. There are so many interesting discussions going on. I hope it doesn't matter that this comment is very late, I just thought I might be able to add another perspective.

    I find it really silly when I hear people saying this. Firstly, I can only imagine that for many young French people today, the whole issue just isn't really relevant - it's not something they ever experienced, how could they possibly understand what kind of sacrifices were made for them? It's not as though you spend your whole life thinking about events that took place decades before you were even born. Other than that, I think if French people are ungrateful, it's probably because American aid came with so many strings attached, as you mentioned David.

    As an Australian, (with an admittedly poor knowledge of history - I blame the education system), I can say that French people are eternally grateful for our efforts during WWI (slightly different, I know). This is most striking in Villers-Bretonneux, where the town logo is a kangaroo, and the streets and school are named after Australian places. The school even has signs saying Never Forget Australia.

    So personally, "ungrateful" is not a word that I could conceive of being applied to French people. However, if you repeatedly tell them how ungrateful they are, I'm sure their patience would start to wear thin and their goodwill towards you would quickly run out. Not that all Americans are like that, by any means, but the tensions of 2003 certainly brought all these issues to the fore.

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