As @JamesMLindsay, the Twitter feed of my old CFR colleague Jim Lindsay, reminds us today, this is the anniversary of the day on which Louis XVI, the Most Catholic King of France, recognized the United States of America as a sovereign nation in 1777.Without that decision, American independence might have come much later if at all. French aid kept the rebellion going and provided the money and supplies without which George Washington’s ragtag army could not have survived.It was not the most brilliant foreign policy decision in the history of the French monarchy. While the war of the American Revolution ended in a French victory over the UK, partially avenging the defeat of the Seven Years’ War, the victory was Pyrrhic. The US did not become a strategic ally of France in its long and losing contest with Britain, and the costs of the American Revolution would ultimately force Louis XVI to convene the Estates General meeting that launched the French Revolution.Be that as it may, it was a decisive moment in American and world history. Most historians believe that it was the US victory at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777 that led Louis to conclude that the time had come for recognition. If so, that makes Saratoga one of the most important battles of all time.Thanks, France, for the help. Britain was our mother country, but you were the midwife of our independence, and without you, we might not be here. You have often wondered since whether helping us was the right thing to do, but the chances are that if you ever really need us again, we will be there.Merci.