Tuesday, August 21 , 2018, 7:39 pm | Fair 70º

 
 
 
 

Froma Harrop: Lafayette, We Are Embarrassed

McChrystal failed in his duty to show dignity and respect toward French comrades

Thirty-six U.S. cities and towns are named after the Marquis de Lafayette — the best-known being Fayetteville, N.C., and Lafayette, La. Countless streets, parks and counties also honor the French aristocrat who left his country at age 19 to enlist with George Washington in the American Revolution. (There’s also Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.) Many other American locales bear the name of La Grange, Lafayette’s chateau in France. LaGrange, Ga., comes to mind.

Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop

Fighting for the democratic ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, Lafayette became an American general and hero. At Lafayette’s funeral in Paris, soil from Bunker Hill was dropped on the coffin. When Col. Charles Stanton arrived in Paris with U.S. troops in 1917, he visited the gravesite, saluted the American flag beside it and famously announced, “Lafayette, we are here!”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. and NATO allies in Afghanistan, shared no such grace or generosity toward his French comrades in arms. The Rolling Stone magazine article that ended his career opens with McChrystal making a gruesome scene in Paris. He’s throwing a tantrum over having to attend a fancy dinner aimed at persuading the French to keep their forces in Afghanistan.

“The dinner comes with the position, sir,” his chief of staff tells him. To which McChrystal responds, “Hey, Charlie, does this come with the position?” and extends a middle finger.

The following night in Paris, the McChrystal entourage goes to an Irish pub. There they drunkenly make fun of the allied soldiers and break into an Afghani wedding dance while singing their “Afghanistan song.” Mercifully, none of this ended up on YouTube — although it could have.

The list of McChrystal’s vulgar attacks on the Obama administration was long and appalling. But President Barack Obama was reportedly even more incensed by the contempt shown America’s allies, above all the French.

Unlike most Europeans in Afghanistan, the French have done serious fighting — at the cost of more than 40 soldiers’ lives. (The biggest French unit, located in Kapisa Province, is named Brigade La Fayette.)

Just last October, Stars and Stripes reported that “the French military is going toe-to-toe with the Taliban, shedding blood and proving a worthy partner in Afghanistan,” according to U.S. officers.

French marines were tasked with calming the Tagab Valley, a place the Soviets couldn’t pacify in the 1980s. The article quotes one U.S. solider saying that he liked patrolling with the French because “they roll out heavy.”

The first French soldier landed in Afghanistan within three months of the 9/11 attacks on America. A poll taken right after the terrorist outrage showed 96 percent of the French public “in solidarity” with the United States.

Nonetheless, when France refused to go along with the Iraq War, yahoos in Congress forced the House of Representatives cafeteria to change the name of French fries to freedom fries. (Three years ago, the old name was restored.) Dimwits in the American media ridiculed the French as cowards.

When it comes to facing down terrorism, the French have been tougher than most. So why do U.S. leaders become so deranged on those occasions when the French see their national interests as other than ours?

An outbreak of American buffoonery toward the French seems never far below surface. McChrystal, the Rolling Stone piece said, resented playing the diplomat, although that’s part of the job. He also hated going to posh Parisian restaurants with candles on the table. Well, suck it up, general.

Lafayette had his differences with Gen. Washington, but in his public comments, he never offered anything other than the highest praise for the founding father. Lafayette, we are embarrassed.

Froma Harrop is an independent voice on politics, economics and culture, and blogs on RealClearPolitics.com. She is also a member of the editorial board at The Providence (R.I.) Journal. Click here to contact her at Creators.com.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >