Yesterday on PBS, there was a very well done documentary on Benjamin Franklin. One of the most important points of the show was the rationale for why when Franklin died he was revered more in France, than in the United States. The historians argued that by choosing George Washington as the hero of the Revolutionary War, the US was able to put forth the myth that it was the country's valor, bravery, and the rightness of the cause of liberty that secured its independence from Britain. If the country had chosen Franklin as its hero, it would have to admit the importance of the role of France, as America's #1 ally, for the fledgling nation's independence.
So in the spirit of the TransAtlantic relationship, I wish to appreciate Ben Franklin's diplomacy with both France and Britain as the prevailing reality (not mythology) of American independence. It is important to recognize that "independence" is never gained alone, but through the help of one's friends.
It is interesting to note that the bankruptcy of the French Court due to its financing of American independence was a chief cause of the French Revolution.
Yet the depth and history of the transatlantic relationship opens a significant question for America's contemporary foreign diplomacy with the establishment of the EU. The history of American diplomacy in the US has often been based on exploiting the national rivalries within Europe. If Europe becomes more unifed in its foreign policy, which was the goal of the Constitution, then how does the US obtain its foreign policy goals, at least those which are not to the benefit of Europe?
Too deep a question for such a pre-holiday event, but remember to raise a glass to America's allies (even the ones in Britain) and Ben Franklin's diplomacy which won the US its independence.