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03 May 2009


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Babak Makkinejad


You are misunderstanding history [which, of course, means I understand it.]

Martel at Potier was not decisive.

What was decisive was that Arabs had become too dumb, fat, and happy to puruse further expansion. They were content to consume their booty - both physical and intellectual.

Mark Logan


I am referring to the American case, and specificaly to the jokes of
supposed French cowardice within the US. There have of course been no shortage of jokes about the French, but about oddness, and other things, not generally of cowardice, at least not in the US.

Take the case of The Coneheads,
"We are from France!"

Today this joke would not be used, because the Coneheads were not cowards,
and the writers would not wish risk confusing their largely American audience
about the image they are creating. I am of the opinion that this cowardice meme is almost entirely rooted in the attempts by some to gin up support for the Iraq war, or perhaps even war in general.


Didn't some guy speaking Norman French conquer Britain?

Babak Makkinejad

William P. Fitzgerald:

You asked: "Who wouldn't wish to spend the rest of his life helping Meg Ryan run a vineyard in southern France?"

Wine is forbidden in Islam, Meg Ryan isn't.

William P. Fitzgerald III


Absolute tripe. The Battle was won by Frankish valor, with the aid of a contingent of coneheads, over those oriental brigands and was decisive. That it was is made evident by the fact that they left and didn't return. It was the Battle of Tours (A.D. 732), not Poiters.
Well, I admit it is sometimes called Poitiers but Tours is more common.

Lina, The guy speaking Norman-French conquered England, not Britain and was ever afterward known as William the Conqueror. Does this mean that Tommy Franks will go down in history as "Tommy the Conqueror"?

With tongue in cheek,



Holiday Inn Resident, interesting link, I think the French were more inclined to get the facts right before they started shooting rather that being worried about 'maritime law'. As the Col. pointed out in a previous post, you have to get the money out - and not just the money the pirates are making. Then again, maybe I just to to put this MBA to use in a new (old) career at sea.

Vile Whig

A good case can be made that French military and political leadership in 1940 was second-rate. But it was geography, not moral superiority, that made it possible for the US, Britain and even the Soviets-- to absorb their initial defeats by the Axis, recover and come back to win.

Patrick Lang


I am sort of Whiggish myself. Jack Aubrey would have thought so.

Yes, you could make that case, and that British military and political leadership was second rate when they lost America, or that anyone's leadership was second rate when they lost anywhere. pl

Babak Makkinejad

William P. Fitzgerald III:

I disagree with your disagreement.

Why didn't the Arabs/Muslims come back to fight aother day?


An interesting thing to note is that many francophobic jokes are actually transpositions of Russian antisemite jokes.
In Russia, Jews have the reputation of being useless in the military. Try that one on a Russian friend: So it's about a soldier, Jew...
Also, the most rabid francophobes are jewish hawks, e.g. Jonah Goldberg. How strange.

Tom S

In recent history, the French have tended not to mess around when "raison d'etat" is concerned. This is good, piracy today, support in Gulf War I. It can also be bad...the Rainbow Warrior, for example.


I understood that the hero of Waterloo, the 1st Duke of Wellington was educated in a French military academy.

He even poses like Bonaparte

Howard C. Berkowitz

Bernard Fall, quoting a French lieutenant colonel in Indochina: "There is a difference between us French and Don Quixote. Don Quixote rode against windmills because he thought they were giants, but we ride against windmills knowing they are windmills but doing it all the same because we think that in this materialistic world, there ought to be someone who rides against windmills"

John Minnerath

Tycho Brahe (1546-1610), the famous Danish Astronomer evidently didn't care much for the French.
As can be seen in a quote from his writing on the stuff of comets.
"Comets are formed by the ascending from earth of human sins and wickedness, formed into a kind of gas and ignited by the anger of God. This poisonous stuff falls down again on people's heads, and causes all kinds of mischief, such as pestilence, Frenchmen, sudden death and bad weather."

Actually, this amateur astronomer, whose ancestors came from the old Duchy of Lorraine, thinks they have the "Right Stuff".

William P. Fitzgerald III


Valiant Franks, of course. However, there may have been fair Spanish ladies on the other side of the Pyrenees.



Abd-r-Rahman had conducted a cavalry looting raid into Gaul. His wagon trains were piled w/ treasure. Charles Martel had piled the horseless Franks into a shield wall much as Harald the Saxon would against the Norman William some five hundred years later.

But the Franks detached and raided the raiders loot train. The Saracens (Sharkeyeen for Eastereners) lost interest in the battle and regrouped to protect their treasture, secured it and escorted it South. After all that was the whole point of the trip!!

The lasting legacy of the encounter was that from the Muslim dead, the Franks learned the secret of the STIRRUP, armour, and heavy cavalry.

When the saracens returned, they would encounter Frankish cavalry by and by. Which their Roman predecessors had developed hundreds of years before after being heavily humiliated time a and time again at the hands of the Persicos. See Crassus and the battle of Carrahae.

Babak Makkinejad

William P. Fitzgerald III:

The Makkinejad Thesis, for I would like to so designate it, states that people and civilizations grow until they become physically and intellectually satisfied with where they have arrived (materially and intellectually).

Then they atrophy.

This certainly happened to Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula, who seem to have concluded that there was not much worth the effort beyond the Pyrenees.

Yes, there were (and are) fair ladies in Iberia but what is the use if one cannot marry more than one, being so unfortunate as to be born a Christian?


To be fair Americans diss everybody, the Israelis being the only ones we respect militarily. Popular culture, most notably sports, provide most of our heroes today and there are no French football players (soccer isn't American), baseball players, big-time wrestlers (if there is I'm sure he always loses), NASCAR drivers (Sasha Baron Cohen in "Taledaga Nights" was French), or rodeo cowboys. In that classic movie "Death Race 2000," the original, the French were the enemy--I can't remember why.
But that's popular culture and the more intellectualy inclined Americans have always admired the French, in fact French rock-and-roll is popular with the 30-somethings in-the-know.


What was decisive was that Arabs had become too dumb, fat, and happy to puruse further expansion. They were content to consume their booty - both physical and intellectual.

Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 04 May 2009 at 12:07 PM

meh... if you look at the map. They didn't have the technology to fight beyond open plain where cavalry is effective.

see the map at wiki. As you notice, the early Islamic empire were largely going around the declining main roman empire area. Those area still use the highly effective roman infantry and defense system.

The frank, may be lousy on horse and couldn't go very far beyond borders for next thousand years, but 700AD, they had feudal structure worked out to fight the visigoth. And they had plenty of practice bashing each other.

I suspect the Umayyad cavalry also had temperature adaptation problem. Look at annual climate map. southern spain vs. going deeper into europe.

Also, holding an empire that is gained in such short time, specially in more densely populated area is complicated. Specially central europe where it's basically chaos. Even the Roman couldn't really establish tight rule over the barbarians.


It would take the mongolian, 400 years later to perfect cavalry conquest over huge climate difference. The mongolian was skillful horse archer, thanks to nomad/hunter/herder culture. And they skipped the religious conversion nicety and simply kill everybody. Thats one way to impose control and install new government.


Clifford Kiracofe

Relations between countries have their ups and downs over time. We can, of course, recall the French Alliance during our Independence era.

Then there was the X,Y,Z Affair and Napoleon III's plot (with Palmerston etal) to shred this republic.

Then generally back on track in WWI...Lafayette and all that. And in WWII working with the French Resistance and elements of the French gov, and others, etc.

DeGaulle was DeGaulle so...

Behind the scenes, for example, today relations in the counterterrorism area are good at the working level.

The Neocons were very anti-French when it came to the Iraq War...Irving (Kristol) editing Encounter was based in London for a time wasn't he? Although Richard Perle has a fancy place in France complete with swimming pool...

Surrender? What about that British king fellow who had to be removed owing to his pro-Nazi orientation? And that powerful circle of like minded businessmen and officials...to include certain prominent Fabian Society members?

Good old Charles Martel...

Cold War Zoomie

SWMBO is a fully fledged Francophile having virtually grown up in Paris from the age of five until twelve. Her parents still have a flat there, with a very clear view of Sacré-Cœur on the hill, and they make their pilgrimages to Paris every few months. Once there, they rarely leave the city and its wonderful dog droppings.

After five years quaffing beers and inhaling pork pies on Old Blighty, the British view got lodged into my little brain - Effing Frogs rolls a little too easily off the tongue!

It can be fun 'round my house!

All in all, though, I guess those folks across the Channel are OK. They did finish their half of the Chunnel on time and were gracious enough to slap up a Hypermarket in Calais close enough to the Chunnel so the Limeys can load their cars with cheap booze and ciggies without having to utter a word of French, or pay for parking.

William P. Fitzgerald III


In my estimation your thesis of inevitable decay, rot, and "fester, fester, fester" (Meg Ryan in "French Kiss") needs to be refined. Maturity and atrophy are not necessarily the same thing and, after all, the Moors lasted on the Iberian Peninsula for another 700+ years after Tours. It must be admitted , though, that Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren gave them a spot of bother in the 11th century. As for the ladies of Spain, conversion and a few baubles(looted from Bordeaux, no doubt) and one could marry them by the score.

As for comments on the Battle of Tours. It seems to have been the final act of an Arab 12 year on and off campaign in Southwest France and more than a cavalry raid or reconnaissance.

Be that as it may the battle was won by the "moral and physical superiority of the Teutonic race". My source is the Enyclopedia Brittanica, 1949 edition, which is, surely the more authoritative than Wikiwhatever. (Warning, I'm being facetious.)

Finally, Paul Freeman must be one of the great soldiers in the history of the U.S. Army.



Medicine Man

French bashing is just pure ignorance really. Personally, I have a lot of respect for the French. They have a very long military history and as a culture don't seem inclined towards fist-pumping braggadocio. They don't act like they have something to prove.


Over here in Europe, its usually the Italians who bear the brunt of the jokes.

Q: "How many gears does a Italian tank have?"
A: "5, 1 forward, 4 reverse".

What was really shocking about the 2002 french hate was that it exposed how high up in the US system idiocy and populism runs. One thing is a meme about french "cowardice" spreads through the internet. But its another when the cafeteria of the Capitol changes French fries into freedom fries: Thats a studied public insult by one nation on another allied nation. I can still remember when it was reported over here, nobody could understand it and it was one of the first major public signs that the Bush admin was flying on hubris.

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