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11/10/2005
THE DEATH OF FRANCE?

There is a certain amount of hyperbole practiced by bloggers that, at times, can be both annoying and a whole hell of a lot of fun. Even a cursory look at many of the articles on this site will show that I am not immune to exaggeration in the cause of either humor or political invective. Of course, our political foes make it very easy to draw them with broad brush strokes that highlight their total cluelessness or hypocrisy thus revealing aspects of both their personalities and ideology that are open to ridicule. But still, even my most rabid broadsides are (usually) based on some kind of truth be it historical in nature or on some kind of recognized, universal truth that has been ignored or trampled upon by the left.

But when it comes to reading articles about the French riots, I must confess to being a little annoyed by the casual way in which writers have connected the radical politics of al Qaeda with the thrill-seeking arsonists and troublemakers who are running wild in the streets of French cities torching cars and buildings while enjoying the media exposure of their grievances against French society. The remarkable fact that to date so few have been killed or injured is I think indicative of both the reluctance of French police to enforce the law but also an attitude on the part of rioters which reveals that whatever their beef with French society, they are not going to engage in wholesale slaughter to try and change it.

As several writers have pointed out, this apparent forbearance on the part of the rioters to restrain themselves from chopping off the heads of their tormentors may be only a temporary phenomenon. France may yet experience a wave of terrorist attacks that country has not seen since the Algerian independence movement of the late ’50’s and early 1960’s. During that period, various factions would regularly turn the streets of French cities into free fire zones. Even a group of disaffected French army officers got in on the gruesome fun as they opposed the eventual independence of Algeria and loss of French empire, going so far as attempting to kill President De Gaulle.

But that conflict was about national liberation not the killing of westerners in the name of Allah. And if al Qaeda is smart, they’ll send as much assistance as they dare to the radical imams who have jumped into the power vacuum left by France’s surrender. As Ed Morrisey points out, the eventual outcome of these riots may be more autonomy for the so-called “sink estates.” This can only mean trouble for French citizens as radical Islam spreads its message of hate and murder among the more impressionable and uneducated masses of Muslims who make up the bulk of rioters.

What can the French do about it? Not too damn much. One might be tempted to say “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” but the fact is, France has lost the will to defend itself and the western values represented by more than 1000 years of French civilization. Ever since the grandsons of Charlemagne divvied up his kingdom creating what became France and Germany, the French have been something of a self-appointed guardian of what we loosely term “western values.’ While these values have undergone enormous changes over the centuries, France has been at the forefront of redefining both human liberty and the individual’s relationship with the state.

That is, until World War I. Almost exactly a year ago on Veterans Day, I wrote about “The Day France Died:”

In Barbara Tuchman’s book The Guns of August , the author shows how all of the “Great Powers” blundered, stumbled, and through a willful disregard of logic and reason, rushed into a war that needn’t have been. Through a combination of national pride, misunderstanding, and a false sense of inevitability, the war became a gigantic destructive machine, devouring men and material at a pace never before seen in the history of human civilization.

This insanity touched France more than any other country. And it’s impossible to understand the France of today without looking at the France of nearly 100 years ago and understanding how the very idea of the French nation was destroyed in the trenches that, to this day, cut across the French countryside like some gigantic, unhealed scar; a constant reminder of innocence lost and lives destroyed.

World War I killed the idea of French nationalism. The great British poet and essayist Robert Graves in his book Goodbye to all That talked about the “Love Battles” of the war, battles so horrific that only a sublime love could explain how human beings could participate in such extraordinary bloodletting and barbarity:

One such battle was Verdun. Mention Verdun to a Frenchman today and he will relate with pride the manner in which the French army stood its ground against relentless German attacks. “They shall not pass” is as famous a phrase in France as “Remember the Alamo” is in America. Verdun was by far and away the largest battle in human history. In “A Short History of World War One” James Stokesbury points out that, at one time or another during the nearly year long battle, more than three quarters of the French Army fought at Verdun.

And therein lies the story of the death of France. The Chief of the German General Staff, General Von Falkenhayn, swore that “he would bleed France white” at Verdun. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. France suffered nearly 2 million casualties in defense of…what? Ten square miles of absolutely useless real estate, battered, bombed, cratered like the surface of the moon with the bodies of over 700,000 French and German soldiers pulverized by repeated and futile bombardments

In the end, the French army mutinied against the butchery. Such behavior explains the conduct of the French soldiery as Hitler’s armies swept out of the Ardennes in May of 1940. Entire armies surrendered without even firing a shot. When the French gave up less than a month later, it was estimated that nearly 75% of the men in its army had never fired their guns in anger at the Germans.

This latest challenge to the French nationalistic idea is being met with similar defeatism and timidity. And there is apparently nothing in the French soul to combat the threat. France is, after all, the birthplace of Deconstructionism, a movement that began as a new way to critique literature but ended up destroying the faith of the European left in western superiority. It should come as no surprise then, that the French are desperately seeking a way to accommodate the rioters rather than engage them on an intellectual level that would integrate them into French society.

The nation that was the home to some of the most articulate defenders of individual liberty has become a tired shadow of its former self. And for those who are saying that the riots are evidence of the death of France, I would say that it simply isn’t possible.

France has been dead for more than 80 years.

By: Rick Moran at 6:53 am
11 Responses to “THE DEATH OF FRANCE?”
  1. 1
    ed Said:
    11:25 am 

    Since you quoted Barbara Tuchman, may I recommend reading her book “The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam”. There are a lot of implications for the War on Terror, and particularly American involvement in Iraq.
    Regarding France, you are so accurate. France committed national suicide a long time ago. The most important thing conservatives offer the American political landscape is that the notion that the ideas and ideals underpinning western civilization still matter and have great value in 21st Century society. Of course, liberal ideas and ideals are also a part of that same history, as well as the conservative ideas and ideals. Too bad we have backed ourselves into a corner in which most liberals and conservatives feel obligated to denigrate or ignore the good in each other’s positions.

  2. 2
    RA Said:
    1:39 pm 

    There is no “good” in liberal positions. Everything they stand for hurts America. Name any major liberal positions that helps America.

    Islamofascism is a defining force in these riots. Notice that many of the urban terrorists who rioted in America have turned to radical islam (Ferricon). It is clear for those who embrace the redneck culture in the US (Jessy Jacksson, Al Sharpton followers) meld easily to our own islamofascists).

    It is an ideology of hate and murder which justify these sorts of behaviors.

  3. 3
    ed Said:
    3:12 pm 

    RA, despite your proving my point about the denigration of each other’s positions, I’ll answer your challenge. The fact that the degradation of slavery and exploitation of child laborers no longer legally exist in the United States are beneficial gifts from liberal thinking and actions. The practice and benefits of a free public education (a literate, educated general populace) enabled our dominance in the Industrial Revolution and the economic benefits so derived and still useful in the post-Industrial age. Another liberal idea of great benefit to America.
    Since you challenged me, I’ll challenge you. Let’s you and I buck the downward spiral of political dialogue in the United States. Acknowledge these facts as liberal benefits to America. You can still be a good conservative. We can disagree strongly without hate and denigration. I can disagree with you without labeling everything you think as evil and false. I found good within conservative ideas. Can you reciprocate?

  4. 4
    NIF Trackbacked With:
    6:46 pm 

    Roll the dice

    Today’s dose of NIF - News, Interesting & Funny … It’s Stop the ACLU Thursday (+ Open Trackbacks)

  5. 5
    Apollyon Said:
    1:14 am 

    Excellent stuff. I haven’t read much about al-Qaeda’s hand in this but I wouldn’t be the least surprised. I completely agree on your analysis of France. Here is my take on the islamofascist influence. The madras’s all over France that are preaching death to the very host country offering these dregs the welfare and freedoms to kill them with will bring France to its knees. These little ayatollahs running rampant throwing molotov’s have been listening to calls for jihad since they were little paristinians. They are a barbaric culture. Look at what was recently done to three Catholic YOUNG GIRLS walking to class in Indonesia; a couple of filthy primitive Mohammedan throat cutters attacked the girls and decapitated them. These islamists have tasted the French response to their intifada, and they have won. The absolutely cowardly response of the French and Chirac The Gutlessâ„¢ has emboldened the fire starters and they have begun shooting at cops, beating women police officers nearly to death, POURED GASOLINE ON AN ELDERLY WOMEN AND SET HER ABLAZE ALIVE!!!….They stop busses, force the occupants off, and torch the bus. Anarchy is at the muslims whim now. This was the first salvo, the next will be worse. France has shown it is unwilling to save itself. Capitulation is not self preservation. I would have shot anyone rioters or Molotov throwers immediately. I say about 200 dead little jihadis and that should restore order. If not, 200 more. And so on….

    Robert Graves: “Verdun was by far and away the largest battle in human history.”……The battle of Verdun doesn’t even come close to the bloodiest battle in human history. Stalingrad holds the bloody title. How R. Graves could be so off is surprising considering there were approx 750,000 killed at Verdun while Stalingrad had approx 1.6 million killed. And the Russians would do it again if Bastards of Humanity™ marched upon the gates of Moscow. Russia has not been infected by the liberal quisling disease, yet, and as a Russian immigrant I don’t think it could ever happen. Just ask the Chechen islamist throat cutters.

  6. 6
    Rick Moran Said:
    10:02 am 

    Appolyon:

    Although not on the post, my cite for the “largest battle” quote is Stokesbury “A Short History of World War I.”

    While you are correct about casualties at Stalingrad, the fact is that more than 5.5 million French soldiers fought at Verdun during the 11 month battle as well as nearly 4 million Germans. Those numbers dwarf the combined armies of Generals Paulus and Chuikov by several million.

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by “largest.”

  7. 7
    Apollyon Said:
    11:56 am 

    Rick, I know you didn’t make the claim but rather the author you cited. In the Battle of Stalingrad there were about 1.6 million killed between the Soviets and the nazi rats. As far as largest battle, Verdun very well may have been that battle. I just wanted to point out that the bloodiest battle in human history was Stalingrad, and is almost without exception acknowledged as such.

    Once again, excellent article Rick.

  8. 8
    Apollyon Said:
    12:03 pm 

    Actually Rick, the author was correct in claiming “largest” battle. My mistake; I mistook it for him implying that Verdun was the bloodiest.

  9. 9
    William Clement Said:
    7:18 pm 

    Good post! I visit heree more and more. I found it, as well as the comments, interesting. I always enjoy sites that give not only good info, but, good discussion as well.

  10. 10
    reliapundit Said:
    9:29 pm 

    Rick,
    you wrote:

    “The remarkable fact that to date so few have been killed or injured is I think indicative of both the reluctance of French police to enforce the law but also an attitude on the part of rioters which reveals that whatever their beef with French society, they are not going to engage in wholesale slaughter to try and change it.”

    That’s why bloggers like me called it an intifada, and not war. like the pali intifada, the perps use low grade weapons, mostly. the attacks are pernicious and meant to wear down those under attack and yet NOT make the perps seem like “big baddies.” REMEMBER THE pro-pali REFRAIN: “hey they’re just kids with stones, and the IDF has GUNS!” And the claim that the intifada in the west bak was SPONATNBEOUS was propaganda too.

    it seems in this case you’ve bought it hgook line and sinker.

    though you ahve the good sense to quote ed m:

    As Ed Morrisey points out, the eventual outcome of these riots may be more autonomy for the so-called “sink estates.”

    That’s the start. it’s pernicious.

    if it is allowed to grow, itn will get worse, until they swallow up france.

    it’s their goal.

  11. 11
    docdave Said:
    9:01 pm 

    “until they swallow up france.”
    reliapundit, I think that they the Muslims have already swallowed France to some extent. If anything the riots and the French government capitulation demonstrated that muslims are already in control of France. If this is true, it will not be long before sharia becomes the law of the land.

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