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The French Don’t Understand Impeachment

The U.S. Senate has acquitted Donald Trump on Wednesday after a long impeachment trial, a little-known process in France. For the third time in about fifty years, the French are discovering the American procedure of the impeachment of the president of the United States: Richard Nixon in 1974, Bill Clinton in 1998, and now Donald Trump. One Democrat, two Republicans. As...

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#MeToo Catches Up With Roman Polanski

France has taken longer than North America to address the sexual misconduct of its artists. Revered in France but boycotted and subjected to legal attacks in the United States for the 1977 rape of an underage girl, Roman Polanski had never had cause for concern in the country where he fled. However, this is no longer the case. While his latest...

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“Europe Should Be Capable of Defending Its Interests by Itself”

French scholar Benjamin Haddad heads up the Future Europe initiative for Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council, specialized in U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Paradise Lost: Europe in the World of Trump. France-Amérique: The French often place responsibility for American isolationism on Donald Trump, but your book explains that the movement began with Barack Obama… Benjamin Haddad: The positions...

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Talent Is No Longer an Excuse for Crime

The French cultural world has been shaken to its core by the sexual misdemeanors of director Roman Polanski and the admissions of pedophilia by writer Gabriel Matzneff. Both men considered that their talent put them above the law and the common norms of decency in our societies. Victims are now speaking out. While their predators saw them as muses, they...

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America’s Idealized France

The French-American relationship is passionate, whatever the subject, writes Guy Sorman. There is love and hatred on both sides, without nuance and sometimes without understanding. I will begin with a personal reminiscence. In 1985, I was teaching economics at Stanford University in California. Occupying the office next to mine was none other than Milton Friedman, Nobel laureate, preeminent spokesman for...

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Farewell to the World Police

America has clearly reverted to its original isolationist doctrine. NATO has fallen; Europe must now learn to fend for itself. The United States is no longer the protector of the world order, and this global retreat is not just down to Donald Trump. He certainly accelerated the phenomenon by allowing Russia and Syria to annex neighboring territories, by withdrawing from...

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This Joint Between Us

Many U.S. states have legalized marijuana, while France is timidly preparing to authorize its medicinal use. But is this cautiousness justified? Marijuana is a perfect illustration of the radical difference and rivalry between French and American societies. It should be noted that the very idea of prohibition comes to us from the United States, beginning with the prohibition of alcohol,...

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Bastille Day, or French Every Day

Two days before Bastille Day, the French national day, I was prompted to do a Google search for “bastille day celebrations usa,” which returned over 248,000 results. A 2018 map revealed some 200 celebrations taking place from California to Maine and Florida, and at many points in between. As an educator with a lifelong affection for French language and culture,...

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What Do We Celebrate on Bastille Day?

The French do not celebrate the Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day; they may not even know what it means. Americans, on the other hand, are familiar with what they call Bastille Day, an expression that, strangely, does not exist in French. This enthusiasm for the Storming of the Bastille is not shared by all French people — the Revolution,...

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Revolution as Play in France

On July 14, Americans celebrate Bastille Day. On this day, the French celebrate more than their National Day or the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille: They celebrate the everlasting spirit of the 1789 Revolution. “The French are better at fighting revolutions than making reforms”, wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in his notes in 1848. As a Deputy of the Manche...

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Three Colors

Why do the French and American flags share the same colors? Is it a coincidence? No one knows who designed these two flags, but there are a few clues. For the thirteen original colonies marked by British culture, and whose officers, most notably George Washington, had served in the occupying army, blue, white and red were already familiar shades used...

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Gérard Araud: “My Career Working Under Two Presidents”

The ambassador of France in the United States since 2014, Gérard Araud retired on April 19. Before stepping down, he shared his experience with France-Amérique. The full version of his "diplomatic testament" is to be published in the May issue of our magazine. After being appointed ambassador of France to the United States, I presented my credentials to Barack H. Obama...

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We’ll Always Have Notre-Dame de Paris

No one could have predicted the global swell of emotion inspired by the fire in the cathedral in Paris. The French are generally so divided and there are few regular churchgoers. And yet they suddenly found themselves united in collective mourning. Condolences flooded in from all over the world as if every French person had lost a loved one, and...

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Give the People What They Want. But What Exactly?

In an effort to reply to demands from the Yellow Vest movement, Emmanuel Macron has launched a major national debate that has so far had some success. The initiative is similar to one suggested by Louis XVI before the French Revolution, when citizens were invited to present “grievance books” to the king. The French have a soft spot for revolutionary...[Subscriber]

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To Be or Not to Be Politically Correct

Can we still teach Mark Twain, whose hero is referred to as a "nigger," now that the word has been banished? What about Hergé's comic books and their grotesque depiction of women, Jews, Blacks, and Arabs? In the United States, as in France and other countries, populist movements are shaking up intellectual and political norms. New leaders are announcing that...[Subscriber]

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Remove the Vests and Begin the (Real) Reforms

The Gilets Jaunes (“yellow vests”) movement which started 12 weeks ago has revealed a fracture in French society. Guy Sorman believes it is time for the government to react, and suggests two major reforms: massive investment in elementary education and the introduction of a “negative income tax.” Overall, the Gilets Jaunes are right, although they do not know why and...[Subscriber]

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Facebook and the Gilets Jaunes: Revolution in the Age of Social Media

The Parisian riots of May 1968 were hatched in the city’s cafés, just like the ones in June 1832, March 1871, and February 1934. But the "yellow vests" movement has broken away from this historical precedent. For the very first time, the uprising was born on social media before spilling out onto the street. In 1962, Marshall McLuhan published The...[Subscriber]

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Are the “Yellow Vests” Vandals or Militants?

The sharp increase in fuel prices in recent months has sparked a protest movement in France known as the gilets jaunes or “yellow vests.” In a climate reminiscent of 1789, demonstrators and the police have clashed in Paris and other cities across France. But to what extent can we compare the two eras? On July 14, 1789, in Paris, the...[Subscriber]

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Democracy Seen From Below: Referendums in America

Regardless of differing opinions of the United States, it is an experimental model for our possible future. This applies to culture and technology, but can the same be said for politics? The American tradition of referendums has stopped tax increases and legalized cannabis. However, whether it will one day be adopted in France remains to be seen. During his famous...[Subscriber]

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Should Marshal Pétain Be Honored?

As the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice is being celebrated, public opinion is divided on the inclusion of Pétain’s name in the list of eight French marshals honored by the Elysée Palace on Saturday 10 November. Pétain is a major historical figure, having been both the hero of the Battle of Verdun in World War I, and the collaborationist,...[Subscriber]

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Passing the Torch: America One Hundred Years Ago

November 11, 1918, marked the end of World War I and the beginning of American omnipotence — and this era continues today. What exactly do we commemorate on November 11 in France and America? There were no real winners in the Great War. The French and their allies from Britain, the United States, Belgium, Serbia and elsewhere were decimated by...[Subscriber]