Cheese Wars: France vs. U.S.A.

| 1/23/2009 12:49:44 PM


Freedom fries may be gone, but George Bush's resentments toward the French are not forgotten. As he prepared to leave office, Bush seized the opportunity to lob a departing, symbolic food bomb at the French, according to Foreign Policy:

Apparently one of George W. Bush's last acts as president was to triple tariffs on French Roquefort cheese. This was meant as retaliation for the longstanding French ban on U.S. beef imports. But as Charles Bremner notes, many French were quick to see it as Bush's final shot at the “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” who had so aggravated him during the run-up to the Iraq war.

American hormone-treated beef is actually banned by the entire European Union over health concerns, and while Bush raised tariffs on a host of EU products, he singled out Roquefort for a particularly extreme hike.

The French took notice, and made sure Barack Obama knew they weren't happy, sending him what Foreign Policy calls “a deluxe box of Roquefort” to welcome him to the White House and a letter asking him to lift the "shocking" tax. They’re now busy plotting their next move, Telegraph reports, taking hefty new tariffs on Coke products into consideration.

Image by star5112, licensed under Creative Commons.

Tracey H
1/28/2009 8:02:18 AM

Gee, can't that guy at least keep his hands off my cheese?!

1/24/2009 6:20:28 PM

I'm not sure--is there a French ban on US beef because of the hormones or the risk of mad cow disease? I know in South Korea we had a big kerfluffle which completely sapped all the political capital of the new I Myung Bak presidency when, as part of the Free Trade Agreement between the US and South Korea, the government agreed to lift the ban on US beef. There were protests in the streets. Big protests. My students went from calling President I handsome to calling him crazy. All because people were afraid that US beef was contaminated with mad cow disease.

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