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By Ian Foulks

Over 200 years of shared history and sacrifice have made U.S./Franco relations very strong

The past shared between the United States and France is one which has always been forged in mutual respect and mutual benefit. This relationship goes back to the time of the American Revolution, when Benjamin Franklin traveled to France in an effort to gain assistance from the French during the war. It is true that the two countries have not always seen eye-to-eye on certain matters, and both sides have shown their disapproval of the other on occasion, but throughout their long history together these two countries have seen their alliance grow stronger through the adversity.

The relationship between the United States and France goes all the way back to the American Revolution. The United States sent three commissioners to France in search of assistance for the American war against the British. Among the commissioners was Benjamin Franklin, whom the French people were very fond of, and he was joined by two other men named Arthur Lee and Silas Deane. On February 6, 1778, the two nations would enter into the first of many agreements they would share as they signed a Treaty of Alliance and a Treaty of Amity and Commerce, which would lead to the French aiding the U.S. war effort with a great deal of assistance on the way to the defeat of the British Army.[1]

The American Revolution was only the first war that the two countries would align for. The next major conflict where they fought side by side would be World War I. Though it is true that the U.S. was not militarily involved until April 6, 1917, America did continue to trade with our friends in Europe, even though the sinking of the Lusitania sent the message clearly that the U-boats saw no ships as being off limits. Woodrow Wilson would also ensure that the United States had input in the peace plan.[2] Little did we know all these nations would be meeting again in about two and a half decades.

The next time the U.S. and France would fight as allies would be in World War II; though the parties involved were the same, the circumstances were very different. The whole of the continent of Europe was in desperate need of help and, on June 6, 1944, America stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, to liberate that country from the clutches of Nazi Germany.[3] It was wartime events such as these that truly galvanized the relationship between these two strong allies. Following that war and the rise of the Soviet Union, the United States, France, and other allies would form the North American Treaty Organization (NATO), which has become the strongest international organization in history.

It is true that there have been occasions when the two countries did not approve of each other’s actions, most notably when Napoleon invaded Mexico in 1862.[4] There was also the most recent U.S. invasion of Iraq, which France chose to abstain from. This caused the administration of George W. Bush to rename French fries and French toast by replacing the word “French” with “Freedom.” Regardless of all that, America and France continue to share a very strong relationship that is galvanized by a strong historical bond, tied together through international organizations and treaties, and, above all, reinforced by mutuality and respect.

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