Coordinator Report - France
27 November 2001
This trip was from November 16-25 and actually began with me going to St Louis,
MO to speak to the World Federalist Association's national assembly.
While in France I visited nine cities/towns that included: Bobigny, Paris, La Rochelle, Saintes, Saint Nazaire, Rennes, Avignon, Marseille, and La Cadiere d Azur. Five newspapers covered the tour as well.
My visit was hosted by the French Mouvement de la Paix based in Paris. During the course of the week I was able to speak to students at the University of La Rochelle, Aristide Briand College (Saint Nazaire) and the University of St Martha (Avignon).
Arielle Denis, national secretary of the Mouvement de la Paix in Paris, took me for meetings in Paris with Senator Danielle Bidard (Vice-President of the Armed Forces Commission) and an aide to National Assembly woman Marie Helene Aubert. The meeting with Senator Bidard lasted for an hour and she showed great interest in the space weapons issue and the Kucinich bill to ban research, development and testing of space-based weapons. She offered her support to help promote a global treaty on the same subject.
There was tremendous concern at each stop about U.S. plans for space "control and domination." France, having been militarily occupied by Nazi Germany during WW II, is deeply sensitive to any country claiming to be the "Master of Space." People over and over again expressed horror over the current U.S. war in Central Asia and have been active organizing opposition to French participation in the war.
Dominique Lalanne, from Abolition 2000 in Paris, strongly remarked that "America must deal with this 'we are the best' ideology if things are to change in the world."
One of my able translators, Jacqueline Vaury from Saint Nazaire, told me a story about how while in Rochester, New York in graduate school an American had told her that "We (the U.S.) are big, and you (France) are small." This statement, made some 20 years ago, had stuck in Jacqueline's heart and stood as an example of a runaway American superiority complex.
As I traveled the country one corporation's advertising sign stood taller than any other that I saw. It was MacDonalds hamburgers. In every city local activists spoke of the "golden arches" with disdain.
While walking through the historic streets of Avignon with students from the University of St. Martha, one of them removed an advertising flyer from a car on the street. The advertisement was for a local health fitness club called "USA Paradise".
Many of the French that I spoke with were particularly struck by the thought of space-based lasers using nuclear reactors as a power source. They were shocked to learn that 34 nuclear reactors from the U.S. and former Soviet Union still orbit the Earth today and will fall back to our planet sometime in the next 1,000 years.
Another issue that was particularly unsettling to them was that the U.S. is now pressing NATO to deploy a Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) system throughout Europe. Such an act would mean that Europe would join the U.S. in moving away from arms control negotiations to reduce nuclear threats. Instead a new policy of escalation would replace negotiations. Already tight budgets would force cuts in health care, education, public transit, and social security if France too moved into cooperation on TMD. The U.S. is now pushing for European aerospace corporations to become partners in Star Wars research and development as a way to neutralize European governmental opposition to the program.
Several of the people that I met with expressed interest in the Global Network's May 10-12, 2002 international membership meeting to be held in Berkeley, California.
Much thanks to my wonderful French hosts. It was a delight to finally visit the country that my father's family left in 1640 to move to French Canada. In Paris, Yves-Jean Gallas discovered that the Gagnon family homestead in Normandy still existed but time limitations did not allow for me to visit on this trip. Hopefully another time will allow for that homecoming.