Boycotting or Girlcotting French and German Products
February 15, 2003 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Should We Boycott German, French and Belgian Products? Or, if we're against the Bush administration's intention to liberate/invade Iraq, should we stock up on them? [More inside.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (42 comments total)
Gawker facetiously (typically?) suggests the latter but, it has to be asked: if the U.S. were deprived of all French and German products and France and Germany were deprived of all U.S. products, who would lose out the most?

Bear in mind, when doing your personal audit, that the European countries who wholeheartedly support the U.S. (Italy, Portugal, Spain, the U.K., Denmark, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic) have wonderful alternatives to a lot of the better-known French and German products - cars being a notable exception.

Still, for what it's worth, I think France, Germany and Belgium will miss American products more than the other way round. Or, then again, it may be a class/money thing and only a very small percentage of Americans would even notice...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:23 PM on February 15, 2003

Does that mean that I should boycott wooden shoes?
posted by RobbieFal at 4:23 PM on February 15, 2003

For the movies alone.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:24 PM on February 15, 2003

wholeheartedly support the U.S
Fuck wholeheatedly. More than a million and a half people were on the streets in Barcelona today just to say we are not in favour of Bush's war. If Americans wish to boycott us on our true feelings (and not the brown-nose Aznar), we'll get over it, though I doubt it's an issue. Miguel, do you really think the imminent death of so many people is a topic for where will I get my designer shoes?
posted by Zootoon at 4:32 PM on February 15, 2003

Why do you hate American cheese so much?
posted by machaus at 4:35 PM on February 15, 2003

Hey, the Statue of Liberty is a French creation. I say that Americans should boycott that. Give me your poor and downtrodden, my ass. Lets teach those Frenchies that no toga clad copper bitch is gonna mean shit to the US of A! (Oh wait we already are ignoring her. Okay, carry on then...)
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:39 PM on February 15, 2003

Boycott Gawker and stupid cardosoeanisms.

Eat cheese.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 4:50 PM on February 15, 2003

European countries who wholeheartedly support the U.S. (Italy, Portugal, Spain, the U.K., Denmark, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic)

W.T.F. Miguel!?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:03 PM on February 15, 2003

they're saying that 75,000 - 100,000 were out in LA today -- my brother and father (a 60 year old vietnam vet and lifetime republican) among them.

personally, I think that means you all should boycott movies. damn those liberals in hollywood!
posted by badzen at 5:04 PM on February 15, 2003

Should I mistake the govt. of Iraq with it's people?
Then don't assume blair has our support. he doesn't - as polls and democratic protest show.

plus, what zootoon said.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:06 PM on February 15, 2003

Are any of the people who are calling for a boycott of Belgian, French and German products also calling for a national boycott of Iraqi and Saudi Arabian oil?
posted by homunculus at 5:17 PM on February 15, 2003

Funny, I had no idea that the million or so people huddled around me today were 'wholeheartedly support[ing] the U.S.' (though most were pro-Americans). Strange of them, though, to show their support by turning up at an anti-war march.

Anyway, products. It's a moot point, to some extent, because I know that for Brits, Peugeots and (BMW) Minis are made in Coventry and Oxford, Coke and Levis are made... in the UK, and so on. Even in the US, iconic American brands are outsourced to the Pacific Ring, to Mexico, and (the horror!) to Europe. There aren't many pure products of America these days, at least not ones that reach foreign shores, unless you include cutting-edge military hardware and Jerry Springer.

Now, for products which aren't so globalised...? Well, I'd agree with boycotting Gawker. Better to stick with home-grown renditions of up-your-own-arse cleverness.
posted by riviera at 5:18 PM on February 15, 2003


As Zootoon aand dash_slot said: see the BBC account - 'Million' march against Iraq war - of today's UK demonstrations (official estimate 750,000, unofficial 1M plus).
posted by raygirvan at 5:22 PM on February 15, 2003

I see no reason to boycott any of these countries, nor do I belive they "owe" it to us to go along with our views because we helped them in the World War (or two of them). We Americans love to be loved; and many Europeans, it seems, love to hate us because of --well, no, not just our politics--we have achieved so much and are for the time being the only super power around (waiting for China)...How short a time ago we referred to the Clash of Civilizations (the West and Islam), and now it seems the Clash between the Old World and the New. It's tpough being number one, but someone has to be there.
posted by Postroad at 5:25 PM on February 15, 2003

Get over it, Postroad - we don't hate America(ans).

We hate war.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:28 PM on February 15, 2003

so am i supposed to eat more waffles, or less?
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 5:31 PM on February 15, 2003

"Europe and the U.S. have weathered past conflicts, and no one expects the alliance to end anytime soon. For now, European governments remain divided on the war. But grassroots opposition to the war is so strong that it is endangering leaders who back the U.S. effort -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair, for instance, and Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar. And in the longer term, some analysts say, opposition to the U.S. as a solo superpower could create favorable conditions for a Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis that would reshape global relations for years to come."
posted by homunculus at 5:34 PM on February 15, 2003

Just to chime in with zootoon and mr. slot: Polls continue to show that the majority of Europeans oppose the war. The differences of opinion are on a governmental level, not a public one. Most Italians agree with what the French government is doing, which means it would only be fair to boycott chiantis and Ferraris as well.
posted by Ljubljana at 5:35 PM on February 15, 2003

"the European countries who wholeheartedly support the U.S."

So, this became conservative orthodoxy the moment it was released -- the eight countries want the EU to do what the US wants -- but it is not true.

Here's the most relevant quote. "The solidarity, cohesion and determination of the international community are our best hope of achieving this peacefully. Our strength lies in unity."

Continuing, the letter states ""[O]ur wish is to pursue the UN route."

Does that sound like "We must do whatever the US wants"? Obviously it does not. The US wants an invasion ASAP, the letter calls for a peaceful, multilateral disarming of Iraq. I imagine the hawks will spin that any way they want -- peacefully means militarily, etc. -- seeing as how their overall case is so flimsy.

I don't contend that the letter isn't generally supportive of the movement to disarm Iraq, but it certainly is not unequivocally supportive of any US action.

In any case, ~70% Portuguese don't want the US to invade, ~75% the Spanish, ~80% of Danes and Italians. Is that how democratic countries conduct themseves? By publically working against popular mandate? Could've sworn that's what dictators do.

After Iraq, Portugual. Port is too important to leave it to the Portuguese.
posted by raaka at 5:44 PM on February 15, 2003

Hey, the Statue of Liberty is a French creation.

I saw we melt it down and make bombs with it. That will show them!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:24 PM on February 15, 2003

Why not boycott all products and services produced by US citizens against the war?
That means you can't watch TV, got to the movies or listen to the radio (unless it's country or talk radio) for starters.
And no Ben & Jerry's for you war-mongers, either.
posted by 2sheets at 6:26 PM on February 15, 2003

I'm sorry Miguel. "Girlcotting"? Not your cleverest quip.
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:06 PM on February 15, 2003

Beware of generalizations

Americans != American Government
Europeans != European Governments

Ok they voted their government but, hey, do you remember voting some government that didn't somehow disappoint you ? Too bad this time they're sending people to war, they didn't just steal some hundred million dollars or "waste" them.

Boycott isn't a solution either, because both Europe and USA are strong enough to sustain boycott loss. Effective boycott works only when you starve one country/company to death or when you enrage the population so much they start a revolution.
posted by elpapacito at 7:12 PM on February 15, 2003

Are any of the people who are calling for a boycott of Belgian, French and German products also calling for a national boycott of Iraqi and Saudi Arabian oil?
posted by homunculus at 5:17 PM PST on February 15

Well, what about that? Thanks H.
posted by LouReedsSon at 7:34 PM on February 15, 2003

The numbers game is legitimate, of course (most people are always against wars of any kind, specially those who seem to be "some other countries' business") but democratically elected governments - such as those who freely signed the letter of support of the democratically elected U.S. administration - enjoy political legitimacy and thus should be respected. Or at least discussed and dealt with. I mean, these governments are also very conscious of their electoral liabilities.

Elections are the only consensually politically determinative polls, by definition. Representative liberal democracy, if you agree with it, is still the best method to choose who can make decisions bearing on an organized community. If elected governments make mistakes (i.e unpopular decisions) they can be voted out and replaced.

The letter of support signed by 8 European countries is, I think, a document of supreme political importance, inasmuch as it has created two Europes. Of course they're temporary, political, party-dictated, governmental "Europes" - but their legitimacy is guaranteed by the tenets and methods of representative liberal democracy.

On the one hand, you have an Atlantic, openly Western Europe, firmly anchored on the alliance with the United States (who did rid us of fascism and communism) and, on the other, you have a continental, geopolitically promiscuous Europe, framing its goals in terms of competition with the U.S.

As a proof of purpose, the litmus test is the attitude towards the state of Israel - or, in a larger sense, to the largely non-democratic Arab states.

Although I regret the use of the adverb "wholeheartedly" and thank those who pointed out my exaggeration (I was influenced by the adjective "unconditional", used yesterday by the Spanish and Portuguese governments to describe their support of Turkey and the U.S.), I still think that my question is reasonable.

If boycotts are largely determined by citizens - and could very democratically challenge (or support) the pro-U.S. governments' decisions - how does one think they could affect the current diplomatic tensions?

On an extremely personal note, I'll admit that the suggestion that American citizens should buy more French products to show their displeasure at the U.S. administration's Iraq policy, seemed to me facetious, dilettantish and even slightly traitorous.

I also confess that "European anti-Americanism" and the consequent "anti-European" reaction of Americans are dangerously simplistic notions that need to be qualified. There are at least two Europes. One is clearly pro-American. The other is anti-.

This should be faced, surely!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:11 PM on February 15, 2003

Put more succintly, I think someone who disputes Bush's election (and thinks Gore should have been President, based on the tenets and methods of liberal democracy) has a far more valid point - in fact, it's crucial - than someone who says governments' decisions have nothing to do with what "the people" think.

It's because it's so difficult to know who "the people" are and what they think that the whole rigmarole of representative democracy, with all its electoral niceties and absurdities, had to be invented.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:16 PM on February 15, 2003

No! Because most of the citizens of these countries did not take to the street, and I suspect, most support the upcoming US war. Moreover, these countries should become as dependent as possible on US "imperialism" for their affluence; in this way, we can limit the damage such organizations as the EU and the UN can do to the world: Americans need to become "stockholders" in Europe so we can moderate European pacifism: call it "constructive engagement."
posted by ParisParamus at 8:17 PM on February 15, 2003

ParisP, every once in a while you go so arrogantly, stupidly, ignorantly, unbelievably over the top you make my brain bleed. You suspect? What is that supposed to mean to anything real? Most didn't march so most favor? Completely unrelated facts...except to you. Limiting the damage of the EU and the UN? You are precisely the reason that people in the world want to kill us with terror bombs. You, Paris, yes, you. You are the one that is causing exactly what America is going through right now.

Americans need to moderate world opinion. God, if you only knew how stupid that sounds? But you don't.

*shaking head in utter disbelief*
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:29 PM on February 15, 2003

"America is to punish Germany for leading international opposition to a war against Iraq. The US will withdraw all its troops and bases from there and end military and industrial co-operation between the two countries - moves that could cost the Germans billions of euros."

If true, this is unbelievable. Saudi Arabia has been financing al Qaeda, Pakistan has been helping North Korea develop their nuclear program, and the government wants to punish Germany! This is unbelievably lame. And what is possibly most embarrassing to me is how many of my fellow Americans can't wait to jump on the anti-European bandwagon while ignoring the vicious betrayal of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Pathetic.
posted by homunculus at 9:08 PM on February 15, 2003

Are any of the people who are calling for a boycott of Belgian, French and German products also calling for a national boycott of Iraqi and Saudi Arabian oil?
posted by homunculus at 5:17 PM PST on February 15

Any which way, I've been making a conscious effort to purchase QT gas - I don't have the source handy, but they get their petroleum from Venezuela (IIRC).

Does that help?
posted by notsnot at 9:32 PM on February 15, 2003

Buy German! given that the Bush administration isn't looking out for US interests but, instead, just the interests of a tiny group of US economc elites....buying German is probably the most patriotic thing to do at the moment.
posted by troutfishing at 10:08 PM on February 15, 2003

MiguelCardoso: What are you getting at, exactly? The surveys I've seen unequivocally show that Blair's stance is highly unpopular with the majority of the British citizenry. Why does this count for nothing in deciding how this part of "Europe" feels? Only elections in Britain, or any other European country, tell you this? Since when? What on Earth are you talking about?

A more honest, Burkean take on things would be to say that Blair was (at least theoretically or ostensibly) elected by British voters to do what he thought was best for the country. Your denial of a mismatch between what a majority thinks now and the prime minister's sounds rather disingenuous, although I could be wrong here. Either that, or you're too wrapped up in making an argument for your side or whatnot. But c'mon.
posted by raysmj at 10:40 PM on February 15, 2003

Just so ya'all know, there was a pro war rally in Central Park in NYC. 1000 people showed up to support action against Iraq. 100,000 people showed up in NYC to to rally against military action against Iraq. Do the math!
posted by whirlwind29 at 12:34 AM on February 16, 2003

so whirlwind29, you mean that people are 100x more so against war? Is that what you mean by do the math?

hmmm ......

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. Latest: Feb. 11-12,2003
"Do you support or oppose U.S. military action to disarm Iraq and remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein?"

Support: 69%
Oppose: 23%

CBS News/New York Times Poll. Latest: Feb. 10-12, 2003
"Do you approve or disapprove of the United States taking military action against Iraq to try to remove Saddam Hussein from power?"

Approve: 66%
Disapprove: 29%

CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. Latest: Feb. 7-9, 2003
"Would you favor or oppose invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops in an attempt to remove Saddam Hussein from power?"

Favor: 63%
Oppose: 34%

Crunch those numbers.

posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:01 AM on February 16, 2003

Look, Front242 records are enough of a bummer to find in southern Florida as it is.
Back off.
posted by dong_resin at 1:04 AM on February 16, 2003

Europe's war views. Source: EOS Gallup poll, Jan. 2003
posted by Ljubljana at 3:47 AM on February 16, 2003

I too call 'horseshit' on Mig's tedious generalizations...

S@L: You might want to look into polls results from questions such as 'Do you support unilateral US military action?', 'Do you support action without the support of the UN?' and so forth.
posted by i_cola at 4:39 AM on February 16, 2003

Hey, look at the fireworks! Cool, man.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:42 AM on February 16, 2003

*Washing French camenbert down with a Warsteiner...*

Boycotts? Petty, petty...

The rest of the world would overwhelmingly support the export the export of US wars, given half a chance.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:59 AM on February 16, 2003

er... oppose the export, I should say. Yup. Definitely oppose.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:00 AM on February 16, 2003

Yup, I have to apologize for my crap post. The link was crap; there should have been other links to trade relations (and figures) between the countries in question, as well as to news articles about the boycotts; the proposed discussion was loaded; my defense of it was muddled and went beyond the post's remit and... oh, I'm sorry to say I just posted my opinion on a subject, with nothing to back it up and, what is worse, nothing that could spark discussion.

posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:47 PM on February 16, 2003

Miguel - bravely admitted. But, a little screw-up now and then is merely human and, as the saying goes, "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds......."
posted by troutfishing at 9:35 PM on February 16, 2003

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