Why do they hate France?

The August 6-19 issue of the weekly France-Amerique edition of Le Figaro (one of the two top daily newspapers in France) contains a fascinating article on hostility to France. Historian Jan Eichler, in "La tentation de la francophobie" (The francophobe temptation), examines the sources of the strong anti-French sentiment in central and eastern Europe, with special reference to the Czech Republic. He notes that when asked for an explanation, Czechs cite the "trahison de Munich" (treason/betrayal of Munich).

Eichler explains, however, that the Munich citation has two distinct meanings. For some Czechs, it is simply a literal memory of a terrible act by the French government, which led to tremendous suffering for Czechoslovakia.

Other Czechs, he elaborates, use "Munich" as a shorthand for what they see to be France's failure to support the robustly pro-freedom American policies in Europe. For the latter group, the list of grievances includes some events which were well-known at one time, which have been forgotten by almost all Americans, but which are vividly remembered by many Czechs--such as France's withdrawl from the NATO military command during the DeGaulle presidency.

These pro-American Czechs resent French criticism of the "american way of life." They repeat the arguments of "la fameuse 'Reagan victory school'", which they believe won the Cold War (la guerre froid) and which the Czechs believe can also win the terror war. As the subhead of Eichler's commentary states, "Les nouveaux pays de l'UE, seduits par les theses neoconservatrices, optent pour l'atlantisme." (The new nations of the EU, seduced by the neo-conservative theses, opt for Atlanticism.)(Accent marks are omitted from the French headline.)

UPDATE: A few commenters are wondering about how many important daily newspapers there are in France. The French are blessed with many good daily newspapers, although, sadly, they do not publish on Sunday. However, Le Monde and Le Figaro are the two most important--especially for non-Communist readers. The monthly Le Monde Diplomatique probably has the biggest influence outside of France, with Fig's various international editions coming in second. The daily editions of Le Monde and Le Fig certainly have a huge lead over any other French newspaper for newsstand distribution in England, Germany, and Switzerland, based on my own observations.

P.S. Personally, I adore France's culture and its many historic contributions to Western civilization. Although I was appalled by France's pro-Saddam policies, it is important to remember that France has often played a very constructive role in the War on Terror--including sharing intelligence with the U.S., and helping to force Syria out of Lebanon. But I also understand why Czechs and other peoples who suffered under the Warsaw Pact for so many decades would be especially vigilant about wanting to side with nation that took the lead in their own liberation.