France Bashers Ignorant of American History
The ignorance of political ranter Dick Morris is amazing. In a spiel for the NY Post (07/02/03), which is part of Rupert Murdock's Evil Empire, he demanded that the US Ambassador to France, Howard Leach, be sacked. Leach incurred Morris's wrath for daring to suggest that the friction between the US and France, over the Iraq War, is "in the past and now part of history."
Morris insisted that the French had betrayed America by refusing to endorse our invasion of Iraq. What drivel! The truth is the French were right. There were no WMD in Iraq, it was never a threat to US security, it had no ties to terrorists, and the UN Inspectors should have been permitted to do their jobs.
The French also knew President George W. Bush was being manipulated by advisors who had conflicted interests. I'm referring to Neocons and Super Hawks-- Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith; the seriously confused Donald Rumsfeld; and the Halliburton-challenged Dick Cheney.
Morris even railed that "French voters are nuts." A poll-obsessed consultant for then-President Bill Clinton, Morris, in 1996, was forced out of his cushy White House role by a sleazy sex scandal involving a $200-an-hour prostitute. He has been called everything from a "Rasputin-like figure," to "a buffoon," to a "campaign trickster."
As a France-hater, unfortunately, the raving Morris is not alone. Windbags George F. Will and Rush Limbaugh are even worse. Oh well, if the public can survive the idiotic babblings of Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, then it can survive the daffy Francophones, too.
What Morris and other shallow types have in common, besides their hatred for France, is their gross ignorance about America's history and the Revolutionary War. Even if they knew that history, it still wouldn't touch their souls. They are constitutionally incapable of identifying with the founding of the Republic and the great battles, continuing today, to maintain it. They may read of an historical event, but it never goes any deeper. This is why the people shouldn't pay any heed to their nonsense.
The records shows that France is America's oldest ally. Without her help during the darkest days of our Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the struggle for independence may have been lost. General George Washington himself said, on April 9, 1781, "We are at the end of our tether, and...now or never our deliverance must come."
Under King Louis XVI, French aid had begun to flow into America as early as 1778. It consisted of "money, clothing, muskets, and barrels of the world's finest gunpowder." All of it was "smuggled" for the use of the Continental Army, under the direction of the famous playwright, Pierre de Beaumarchais, according to the riveting, "The Campaign That Won America: The Story of Yorktown," by Burke Davis
By 1781, however, the Continental Army was literally on the ropes. The British occupied parts of New England, all of Manhattan, and had a large army, under Lord Charles Cornwallis, rampaging through the Carolinas, and Virginia, too. Washington was camped, with his mostly unpaid and rag tagged army, at King's Ferry on the Hudson. The British Navy totally controlled the seas. Washington, in desperation, sent Maj. Gen. Lafayette, then age 23, south, with a small force, to harass Cornwallis' 7,500 men.
It was France that then stepped boldly into the breach. With her gallant army, under Count Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau, and her proud navy, under Admiral Francois de Grasse. It came to Washington's rescue, in early August of 1781, along with much-needed additional supplies.
Surprisingly, Cornwallis overplayed his hand. As the result of his forces plundering in the Carolinas, the local "Mountain Men," rose up and gave some of the British a good whipping at a place called "King's Mountain." The gutsy guerrilla faction was led by Francis Marion and Thomas Sumter. They were masters of the hit-and-run raids.
Enter General Nathanael Greene, one of Washington's "most able lieutenants." Greene, the son of a Quaker minister, challenged Cornwallis' forces, too, using army troops and militia, and seriously damaged them in the Carolinas. He and Lafayette, in the Virginia campaigns, were assisted by men whose names are writ large in the history of that period. Heroes like Daniel Morgan, Light-horse Harry Lee, William Washington, John Eager Howard, Edward Carrington, Thaddeus Kosciusko, Mordecai Gist, Baron de Kalb, Anthony Wayne and the Baron von Steuben.
Washington's strategy worked. A weakened Cornwallis retreated to Virginia and Yorktown, located on the York River near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. In a forced march, Washington, beginning on Aug. 30, 1781, took his battered army 450 miles south from New York, and, along with de Rochambeau's army, began to surround Yorktown in a classic military pincer movement.
It was at that opportune moment that the French fleet under de Grasse showed up. After a ferocious exchange of gunfire, on Sept. 5th, the French chased the crippled British fleet out of the Chesapeake Bay, and blockaded it, so that no relief force could reach Cornwallis. An intense Allied siege of Yorktown, that began on Sept. 28th, resulted in the British surrendering on Oct. 19, 1781, effectively ending the war.
I leave the final words on the role of the French in the battle, to the immortal Washington. In a message to Congress, dated that very same day, and after praising the efforts of the "combined Army in this occasion," he added this line, "I wish it was in my power to express to Congress how much I feel indebted to the Count de Grasse and his fleet..."
These last words are inscribed on a marker that can be found at Cape Henry, VA., next to a monument to the noble de Grasse. Washington's accolades to the French should be memorized by every school child in America, and, for poetic justice purposes, by that silly France-bashing Dick Morris, too!
© William Hughes 2003. William Hughes is the author of "Andrew Jackson vs. New World Order" (Authors Choice Press) and "Baltimore Iconoclast" (Writer's Showcase). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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This story was published on July 15, 2003.