American Scholar discusses America’s French Complex

American Scholar discusses America’s French Complex

On April 29, IPS hosted a talk by the President of Kiser Research Inc., Washington DC, Mr. John W. Kiser III on “The French Experience in Algeria: Lessons for America” in Islamabad. The speaker noted that 19th century France held a very high opinion of itself, considered itself the liberator and reformer of Europe and boasted about its superior culture as well as its advancement in science and technology. Mr. Kiser said that “America suffers from the French complex” today, and that France’s Algerian experience presents an analogy to the current American undertaking “not only in Iraq but throughout the Middle East.”

Mr. Kiser observed that the French had been a little ahead of the Americans in that they knew the local culture, learned Arabic and used local tribes for maintaining control. In contrast, Americans had not leveled with the local population and knew nothing about the Arab culture: “They have rather committed human rights violations and incidents like Abu Gharib prison have sullied America’s reputation badly.”

IPS Chairman Senator Khurshid Ahmed commented that colonialism had to give way to pluralism to meet modern needs; terrorism was the “weapon of the weak” in a world that had an “asymmetry of power;” and that America needed to chose between subjugating the world by force and providing moral leadership.

A lively Q&A session followed the talk. The event ended with concluding remarks by the Chairperson, former ambassador, Dr. S. M. Koreshi.

29 April 2005

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