Tony Parsons is a British Journalist. - This appeared in a London newspaper recently.
Mar 17 2003, by Tony Parsons
I hope that the continent of Europe never again needs help from the United States of America.. I hope that there's never some murderous little tyrant - another Hitler, another Milosevic - that Europe needs help in taming.
I hope that there's never some economic catastrophe that requires American dollars to make it right, as they did at the end of the Second World War.
I hope that the euro experiment works. I hope that all those peace-loving souls in Belgium, Germany and France can somehow muster an army to protect themselves.
I hope that the continent I live on never again needs to go cap in hand to the Americans.
Because if that black day ever comes, I have the feeling that America might just tell Europe where to go.
On the eve of war, there is a tangible anger in America. But surprisingly little of it is directed against the Iraqis. It is the French who are detested.
"This is all about oil," the Brits hear all the time. And Americans think it is "all about oil" too. The 50 billion worth of oil contracts that France has with Iraq. In American eyes, that is why the French are so keen to avoid war.
Anti-French feeling in the United Kingdom is never more than a passing fancy a jokey bit of "hop-off-you-Frogs" banter.
Not in America.
The cafeteria in the House of Representatives no longer serves French fries - chips to you and me, guvnor. Now they sell something called "freedom fries". That sounds nuts - and of course it is.
But when a furious Congresswoman presents a "bring home our dead" bill demanding that the 75,000 American men and boys who died in France during two world wars be dug up and brought home, you realise that this is more than "hop-off-you-Frogs" banter.
Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite says, "The remains of our brave servicemen should be buried in patriotic soil, not in a country that has turned its back on the US and on the memory of Americans who fought and died there."
That's the difference between the British and the Americans.
We do not feel that the British casualties in two world wars died to liberate the French. We believe that we were fighting for our nation's survival. Just like the Russians.
It is different for Americans.
Throughout the 20th century, through two world wars and one Cold War, America gave all the blood and money Europe needed to keep it free.
They feel that the current crisis has proved that Europeans are, when all is said and done, an ungrateful bunch of Euro bastards who do not give a flying baguette about the 75,000 American graves in Europe.
Anti-European feeling goes right across the board of public opinion, even among the millions of Americans who are passionately against attacking Iraq.
America is united in feeling betrayed by Europe. America is finally starting to understand that - to Europe's eternal shame - there is an opinion that 9/11 was America's comeuppance.
Secretaries and waiters leaping from the top of the burning twin towers?
The fault of American arrogance.
A terrified four-year-old girl cowering at the back of a hijacked plane?
Blame it on America's support for Israel. A stewardess with her throat slit by a carpet cutter? One in the eye for American imperialism.
Those 3,000 dead, murdered on live television? And Europe blames America.
When 9/11 happened, you might have expected to see Palestinians dancing in the street. But who would have expected the grim look of satisfaction on the faces of old Europe?
But the British are absolved of Europe's sins. Those who are against the war admire Britain because we had a peace march where one million people filled the streets.
Those for the war admire Britain because Tony Blair has been a true friend to America. And although the man on the M25 might make jibes about Blair being a "poodle", among American hawks our Prime Minister is seen as dangerously strong-willed.
There is a school of opinion in America that believes the war could have been over by last Christmas if Tony Blair had not been so keen on proceeding through the correct diplomatic channels. Nobody calls Tony Blair a poodle in the USA.
It has been good to be British in America these past few weeks.
For America has been reminded that Britain is the best friend it has in the world, joined by blood, language, history, instinct and culture.
When will the British wake up from their pathetic little dreams of being Europeans and realise that we have been looking for our future in all the wrong places?
Who wants to be European today? Who wants to be an ungrateful, unprincipled, two-faced, pacifist, Euro-grasping, oil-hungry Lilliputian?
No matter what happens over the coming days and weeks, it is true what they say. The English Channel is far wider than the Atlantic.
your cousin, francois