Oct 092008
The second part of the answer addresses the fact that Americans love to make fun of France for losing wars.
And the fact that it actually tells more about Americans relationship to wars than French people’s.

First, as it has been mentioned in the comments of the first part, this stereotype almost always comes from uneducated rednecks (should I dare add Republicans to the package?) and by the way, David L. from Miami is not one of them, I know him, he’s a friend and he loves to impersonate these idiots, that’s all.

Also, this stereotype denotes several things:
-the youth of the US and the fact that all they know about wars is recent modern warfare, they can’t really understand the concept of medieval wars (or anything else medieval for that matter) when winning and losing were quite as abstract concepts as the concepts of countries and borders and such.
-most important is the very fact that these Americans are very proud of the fact that America has won many wars and they take that almost as if a war was some sort of sport where you lose or win or have a tie (this is actually why I used those terms in my previous post) and you’re sad or happy about it until the next one and if you win a lot you rock and if you lose a lot you are being made fun of, just like with your favorite football team.
That comes from a very simple reason: Americans have no concept of a war really is whatsoever.

Of course, America has been almost constantly at war with somebody since it’s inception, nowadays mostly because the military-industrial complex is a big part of the US economy and it constantly needs wars to be fed.
Of course because of this, every generation has its batch of veterans and of course veterans know what a war really is.
But: you rarely hear veterans talk about the horrible aspects of wars. And also veterans have no idea what it’s like to be a civilian in a war torn country.
No American knows what this is. No American knows what it’s like to have a war on your own soil. Simply because there never was a war on American soil except for the Civil War (but it was a civil war which are very particular wars) or the Independence war (which also was some sort of war).
As a consequence, for most if not all Americans the very concept of having a war “at home” is very blurred at best. Hence the stupid conclusions uneducated Americans draw about wars.

And more important, as this blog is about France and not the US, in France, like pretty much any other country in Europe and even in the world, people know what a war on their soil is like.
Of course, there hasn’t been a war on French soil since 1945 and I wasn’t alive then. But people that were alive and still are to tell us about are plenty. The last veteran from WWI died this year and when I was a kid there still were plenty of people that could talk about it (veterans and civilians) but most importantly war is still everywhere to be seen, on buildings, in stories, etc.

And the final parts of the question:

Why do French people suck at winning in general and mostly at sports?

It’s pretty simple. For Americans, as the philosopher Vince Lombardi stated: “Winning is not the main thing, winning is the only thing.” For French people it’s very different.
The most important thing is style. For most French people, it’s better to lose with style, having played well than winning in a classless manner.
And the lack of results can be a consequence of that.

And even if it’s true that French athletes seem to have issue with being number one (for example, just compare the total number of medals France got during the last Olympics (40) with the number of gold medals (7) to get an idea), France is still one of the major nations in the world even on the sports level (ranked 7th in these games for the total number of medals, and even with the official count, the number of gold medals count, France is 10th).

Finally: Was Ronaldo paid off on that day?

One must know nothing about International soccer to ask such a question.
A few facts.
-Ronaldo was indeed sick on that day.
-Despite that fact, France was the best team of soccer in the world in the late 90’s, thinking otherwise denotes total lack of knowledge about soccer, and Brasil didn’t stand a chance, with a healthy or a sick Ronaldo.
-Brasil hasn’t beaten France in an official game since 1958! And since 1986 (with the exception of 1990) one of two things happened to Brasil. Either it played France and lost, either it didn’t play France and was World Champion.
1986: France beats Brasil in the quarter finals.
1990: doesn’t apply.
1994: Brasil doesn’t play against France and wins the Cup.
1998: France beats Brasil in the finale.
2002: Brasil doesn’t play France and wins the Cup.
2006: Brasil loses to France in the quarter finals.

So, you see, France doesn’t need to pay Ronaldo off to beat Brasil as we always do it (why is it in your opinion that Brasilians hate the French soccer team and French people love the Brasilian soccer team?)

More Questions Answered:

  9 Responses to “Why do French suck at War? (part two)”

  1. >>America has won many wars<<

    Often (until 1917-18) against hopelessly ill-matched - and carefully chosen - opponents. And the initial victory against the British depended not a little on.. guess who?

  2. They tied with Romania for the 2010World Cup Qualifiers, Saturday. It was a good game.

  3. France beat New Zealand in Rugby last year at the World Cup, and The All Blacks team is ranked at number one in the world and has been for a few years.

  4. Hey D,

    I JUST now read the last portion of the post about the World Cup… For MANY MANY years I have been under the opinion that R. was paid off and that the game was fixed!! After reading what you wrote and seeing the facts… I just changed my mind! Thanks!! : )

  5. I was sitting in a room filled with about 300 Brasilians that night… It was a very sobering ending- let me tell you… Everyone was convinced he was “paid off!!” Maybe that’s what made me think so… I had always just assumed Brasil was “the best” until you explained it so well in your post…
    Take care, Leese

  6. Hi David,
    I came across your blog just a few days ago, and have been reading all the old posts

    Really interesting blog with lots of nice info.

    I really liked your passionate response to the question of war, it was really well written out, especially the idea of having war on home soil.

  7. Thanks…

  8. Actually Civil Wars tend to be pretty bloody historically. And America’s was pretty horrific even as those go. And in generally did leave some marks on the nation. In parts of the South the issue is treated by some people as if it all happened a few years ago!!!

    Also we had and more or less lost The War of 1812 as was as The Revolution. In the case of the former the main reason the young US remained instead of Britain fully taking back her former colonies, was that Britain could not afford an occupation with resistance because of Napoleon.

    Actually I attribute glorification of war in general and French bashing in the US largely to right winged and militaristic politics. Both of which are more prevalent in the South-generally the region where the Civil War still has the largest effects in terms of the fact that in some places the economy is still bad from it-even with FDR’s efforts and everything since.

  9. As an American, I believe that Americans suck at war. We’re hopeless incompetents in the arena of war. We install dictators that we then later have to topple at great expense, and only “win” because of the amount of money we throw at the war in the first place.

    The Iraq War is a great example. We went in on false pretenses and then changed our objectives halfway through the whole endeavor as part of a sunken cost fallacy. If we aren’t there to fight a counter-insurgency, get oil then we’re at least there to buy ourselves a shaky democracy.

    And then we have the gall to say we “won.”

    We suck horribly at strategy and planning. We never seem to have a clear idea of what we’re ever trying to achieve. And we indulge horribly in wishful thinking and think it’s an adequate substitute to knowing facts about a situation.

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