The French are still suffering from their diss of President Bush and Secretary of StateColin Powell (search) in the runup to the Iraq war.
French tourism was down 2.6 percent overall in 2003, but buried in that number is the fact that American tourism to France was down 18 percent.
This has cost the French economy millions. They're still trying to figure out how it happened.
One of the theories now going around among the Frenchies is that Bush trapped the suave and slick Dominique de Villepin (search), the french foreigh minister.
It goes something like this...
The French approached the Iraq problem with their typical air of superiority, as is their normal practice. De Villepin and his assistants constructed arguments that could not be refuted by someone so unsophisticated as the Texas president.
They expected to roll over the dopey Americans and their stupid arguments that Iraq should be invaded.
They thought their pride-and-joy foreign minister was so eloquent(he writes poetry, after all)... so reasoned and reasonable... his logic so impeccable that he would immediately sweep aside the weaker arguments of the Americans.
And now the French think they were suckered by Bush because he knew Americans would take one look at that snakey de Villepin and say, "Whatever he wants, O don't."
The French couldn't imagine that there would be repurcussions from their anti-Americanism, and now they're learning different.
The backlash is expensive and long lasting. I don't think the french are right in this new theory. I think they were just wrong about Iraq, and Americans saw it plain as day.
That's My Word.
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