Welcome to the America through French eyes module. To understand general relations and perceptions between France and the United States, let's go back to 2003, when the American President began a diplomatic and public relations campaign in favor of a military invasion of Iraq. If you recall, in the wake of September 11th, 2001, George W. Bush and his administration announced their war on terror, and claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that it would use on the US. The US plan to invade Iraq to prevent this from happening. France and Germany, were the world leaders resisting this American campaign. They claimed that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. They turned out to be correct. They claimed that military action was not in the world's best interests. Most governments and most public opinion in the world were against a US invasion. Worldwide street demonstrations took place in 2003, whereas American public opinion, though divided, was largely in favor of invasion. As you know, America did invade Iraq, and our diplomatic relations suffered enormously. American behavior in this incident conformed very closely to long-held French views of America as an imperialistic, unilateral superpower. The US and France have been longtime friends and allies, but our shared histories have been marked by antagonistic flare-ups, such as the 2003 Iraq war, and the Marshall Plan after World War II, and decolonization in the same post-war era. French and American societies share many core values. Democracy, human rights, equality, liberty, social mobility. But sometimes Franco-American conflicts are related to our divergent interpretations of our key shared values, such as the nature of democracy. We try to distinguish the uniqueness of one society in relation to the other. We can call this a narcissism of minor differences. It's a term from Sigmund Freud. Because France is so similar and close to the United States, our slightest differences loom largely. French stereotypes about America often focus on America as a super or even a hyper power, America as imperialist, politically and culturally, both. America as a free market, as consumerist. America as a producer or arbiter of popular culture. Americans as fat, hypocritical, racist, gun-toting, mega-church going, anti-intellectual people. From this course, you will see that the French are not the only ones who hold such opinions of America. But not all French think these things of all Americans. These are, of course, exaggerations, or essentialisms, or stereotypes. Generally, we can break holders of particular stereotypes into smaller groups, based on political leanings. For example, conservative or right-wing French people tend to focus on the US as too powerful and imperialist. Some French people with rightist leanings want France to serve as a stronger counterweight to American power. They emphasize a more defined French national identity. Jacques Chirac, who was French president in 2003, comes from this Gaullist tradition, inherited from Charles de Gaulle. This explains Chirac's leadership of the campaign against the US invasion of Iraq. The left-wing in France typically perceives of America as a capitalistic system that excludes the poor and provides little safety net for his aged, it's families, or it's needy. Because France has a wider spectrum of political ideologies than the United States and has a multi-party system, we need to look further. Environmental or green political parties in France, tend to see the United States as a global polluter, with no concern for multi-lateral initiatives to save the planet. The extreme right in France, represented by the National Front Party, generally admires the American war on terror since 2001, but tends to disdain the US for being multicultural and lacking in tradition. If we reverse the gaze, we will see the many ways that Americans form stereotypes about the French, and that some Americans even fall victim to Francophobia, which is the reverse of Anti-Americanism. Remember, phobias and isms are different from legitimate critiques. Francophobia and Anti-Americanism are systematic oppositions based on stereotypes that are inaccurate. They are extreme positions, generally only embraced by a minority of people in each nation. To return to my opening, the 2003 American invasion of Iraq was the most recent antagonism between France and America. Peace has since returned to these two allied peoples. In polls in 2014 and 2015, more than 75 percent of both Americans and French have favorable opinions of each other. In the next chapter, we will continue our investigation of America through French eyes, by going back to a time when both countries were struggling to develop their democratic political regimes.