Lessons on foreign diplomacy

Published 1:33 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2009

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

That quote, from G.K. Chesterton, rings so true, despite the fact that our current President seems to have a habit of apologizing for this country’s prior actions. Perhaps Obama needs a refresher course on how some of our former patriots handled negative comments about our country.

JFK’S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60’s when De Gaulle decided to pull out of NATO. De Gaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded…”does that include those who are buried here?”

At a conference in England, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush.

Powell answered, “’Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”

At a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American, one of the French engineers came back into the room following a break and questioned President Bush’s actions for sending an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help tsunami victims.

“What does he intend to do, bomb them,” quizzed the sarcastic Frenchman.

A Boeing engineer replied, “Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people, three meals a day; they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day; and they carry half dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships; how many does

France have?”

A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included brass from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French navies. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks at a reception, but a French admiral suddenly complained that, whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, “’Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?” Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied, “Maybe it’s because the Brit’s, Canadians, Aussie’s and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.”

Obama can also learn from Robert Whiting, an 83-year-old American who visiting Paris. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport, thusly agitating the French Customs officer.

“You have been to France before, monsieur,” the customs officer asked, to which Mr. Whiting answered yes. “Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.” ‘The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it,” Whiting said, sparking the agent to respond, “Impossible; Americans always have to show passports on arrival in France.”

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, ”Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to.”

Amen, brother!

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.