Americans have a rep for being terrible diplomats (Rumsfeld, for one, comes to mind). This snippet from the most recent issue of The Economist got me thinking, though: (incidentally, if you only have time to read one mag a week, buy the Economist. I know no other publication that I find pleasant to read even on issues I disagree with them on.)
'Warships from across the world gathered in the Solent on June 28th to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson's victory at the battle of Trafalgar. (...) The Americans had planned to send the USS Carl Vinson, one of their enormous aircraft carriers. In the event, the USS Saipan, an amphibious assault ship, replaced her. Officially, the Americans blamed "operational availability" for their carrier's absence. But some thought they detected a tactical retreat: the Carl Vinson dwars even the Charles de Gaulle, the pride of the French navy and the biggest ship present at the celebrations - while the Saipan is 38 feet shorter.'
Like quite a few other Dutch, I hate the French for a plethora of reasons (criticism of Dutch soft drug policy (yes, American politicians make comments about that too, but they have no real power over us, unlike the French through the EU, meaning that American comments are intended mainly for their own constituents), 1996 nuclear tests, Rainbow Warrior, agricultural policy in the EU, flooding the market with bad blended cognacs (don't EVER let anyone tell you Courvoisier is good brandy), holding back European economical liberalization, behaving like neocolonials in their former colonies in ways that surpass anything they've ever claimed the Americans are guilty of, being a political but not a military member of NATO, still managing to maintain a virtual class society in the bloody 21st century, them being arrogant wankers in general, etc etc etc).
Therefore, I applaud American self-restraint. Seems they can be diplomats, if they like to be. (Were I in command of the American navy, I would probably have sent the entire 6th Fleet.)
Incidentally, this is what the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle looks like, next to the USS Enterprise (please, do snigger):
Soon it turned out that American Hawkeye planes couldn't land on the CdG. The French first had to weld an extra piece of 4,4 metres to its landing deck since it wasn't long enough...