Vive la France

November 01, 1995|By Art Buchwald

I HAVE JUST returned from Paris, and the big news from Europe is that France has become the leading arms merchant in the world -- surpassing even the United States. The question on everyone's lips is, how did the French pull it off?

I asked my friend Alain Bernheim, who, when it comes to anything French, is as defensive as Brigitte Bardot.

''We did it,'' he explained, ''by combining all the luxury items France exports with the arms and ammunition. For example, we sprinkled Chanel No. 5 on all the missiles that we sold to China. The Chinese army fell in love when they inhaled the missiles.''

''That's good marketing,'' I told Alain. ''What else sold the French armaments?''

''As you know, truffles are now more expensive than submarines -- we offered to throw in a pound of truffles with each Agosta Class Submarine. The Saudi Arabians were desperate for truffles; they ordered 10 submarines. The Americans were furious when they heard about it. They plan to complain to the World Trade Commission. They are claiming that truffles were forbidden from inclusion in arms sales.''

Clothes for bombs?

I asked, ''Did you throw in any Christian Dior clothes as an inducement to sell the French Mirage jets?''

''As a matter of fact, we did. We informed the Iranian government officials that if they bought our planes we would dress every army officer's wife for free. When the wives heard this, the military had no choice but to buy from us.''

''It's hard to imagine that France, which is considered so civilized, is now the leading exporter of arms,'' I said sadly.

Alain said, ''We were once a country of wine, women and song. Now we are a country of wine, women, song and bazookas. Vive la difference!''

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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