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Waterloo: France victorious in defeat
The Times ^ | February 18, 2003 | Adam Sage

Posted on 02/17/2003 3:36:10 PM PST by MadIvan

IN HIS book Les Cent-Jours, Dominique Galouzeau de Villepin recounts Napoleon Bonaparte’s return from exile on the island of Elba, his triumphant march across France and final defeat by the Duke of Wellington.

It is a book that enshrines the Foreign Minister’s hopes and ideals. Take, for instance, his account of Waterloo, a battle inexplicably won by the English: “And yet this defeat shines with an aura worthy of victory. The final opus of the unfinished symphony of the greatest military composer ever, it only just failed to turn to France’s advantage.”

He adds: “This Napoleon guides and transcends. He has carried, ever since his fall, a certain idea of France, a superior vision of politics. His gesture inspires the spirit of resistance.”

M de Villepin describes Napoleon’s philosophy in these terms: “Victory or death, but glory whatever happens.”

France, he continues, is a nation that has always needed Napoleonic figures and projects. If not “the spirit of conquest dies away for lack of an ideal that ennobles it”. Luckily, it needs only “a handful of dreamers . . . to change the course of our history”.

M de Villepin would appear to be just such a man. “There is not a day that goes by without me feeling the imperious need to remember (Napoleon) so as not to yield in the face of indifference, laughter or gibes; so as to enlighten thought and action; so as to continue along this difficult path forged by glorious or humble pilgrims and advance further in the name of a French ambition.

“There is not a day that goes by without me inhaling the perfume of the discreet violet” — the flower that symbolised loyalty to Napoleon.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: District of Columbia; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: barmy; bonkers; chirac; france; napoleon; nutso; villepin
Happygal (who is on the phone to me) presumes that in terms of a French desire for Napoleonic figures, they mean someone that anyone larger than a leprechaun can look down on.

Apart from that, we can presume from this article that the French are totally crazy. Especially their government.

Regards, Ivan


1 posted on 02/17/2003 3:36:10 PM PST by MadIvan
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To: kayak; LET LOOSE THE DOGS OF WAR; keats5; Don'tMessWithTexas; Dutchy; Focault's Pendulum; Clive; ...
Bump!
2 posted on 02/17/2003 3:36:25 PM PST by MadIvan
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To: MadIvan; mhking; Miss Marple
There is not a day that goes by without me inhaling the perfume of the discreet violet” — the flower that symbolised loyalty to Napoleon.

Get the rubber room ready.....this guy is a loon.

3 posted on 02/17/2003 3:41:54 PM PST by Dog
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To: MadIvan
BUMP
4 posted on 02/17/2003 3:44:12 PM PST by RippleFire (Hold mein bier!)
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To: MadIvan
My God, Ivan, I think I fianlly understand why the French love Saddam Hussein so - they're just as insane as he is.
5 posted on 02/17/2003 3:44:14 PM PST by CFC__VRWC
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To: MadIvan
Happygal (who is on the phone to me)

Name dropper. :-)~

6 posted on 02/17/2003 3:44:31 PM PST by Sir Gawain
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To: MadIvan
I've read that Napoleon's pursuit of glory led to the death of one million Europeans. Fitting that this fool celebrates him.
7 posted on 02/17/2003 3:45:46 PM PST by jalisco555
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To: MadIvan
What we have called the "British tradition" was made explicit mainly by a group of Scottish moral philosophers led by David Hume, Adam Smith, and Adam Ferguson, seconded by their English contemporaries Josiah Tucker, Edmund Burke, and William Paley, and drawing largely on a tradition rooted in the jurisprudence of the common law. Opposed to them was the tradition of the French Enlightenment, deeply imbued with Cartesian rationalism: the Encyclopedists and Rousseau, the Physiocrats and Condorcet, are the best-known representatives. [...]

Though these two groups are now commonly lumped together as the ancestors of modern liberalism, there is hardly a greater contrast imaginable than that between their respective conceptions of the evolution and functioning of a social order and the role played in it by liberty. The difference is directly traceable to the predominance of an essentially empiricist view of the world in England and a rationalist approach in France. The main contrast in the practical conclusions to which these approaches led has recently been well put, as follows: "One finds the essence of freedom in spontaneity and the absence of coercion, the other believes it to be realized only in the pursuit and attainment of an absolute collective purpose"; and "one stands for organic, slow, half-conscious growth, the other for doctrinaire deliberateness; one for trial and error procedure, the other for an enforced solely valid pattern." It is the second view, as J.L. Talmon has shown in an important book from which this description is taken, that has become the origin of totalitarian democracy.

The sweeping success of the political doctrines that stem from the French tradition is probably due to their great appeal to human pride and ambition. But we must not forget that the political conclusions of the two schools derive from different conceptions of how society works. In this respect the British philosophers laid the foundations of a profound and essentially valid theory, while the rationalist school was simply and completely wrong.

- F.A. Hayek, "The Constitution of Liberty"

8 posted on 02/17/2003 3:47:42 PM PST by jdege
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To: jalisco555
"I've read that Napoleon's pursuit of glory led to the death of one million Europeans. Fitting that this fool celebrates him."

You said it.
9 posted on 02/17/2003 3:50:45 PM PST by Sofa King (-Do the world a favor: BOMB FRANCE)
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To: MadIvan
These people really ARE crazy! Gimme a break!
10 posted on 02/17/2003 3:51:27 PM PST by Cookie123
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To: MadIvan
That Napoleonic stuff is hilarious. But that is all the French have. The big elephant in the room is France's appeasement of Hitler and the French army's collapse in May 1940. If I had that level of shame in my history, I would go back to Moses for glorification!
11 posted on 02/17/2003 3:52:50 PM PST by LarryM
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To: jdege
Therefore, the EU will be impossible to maintain at its core?
12 posted on 02/17/2003 3:54:21 PM PST by Paraclete
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To: MadIvan
While smelling his violets, M. Villepin should remember Napoleon was of Italian (Corsican) descent, not French.

Perhaps this perfumed papillon should be sniffing garlic instead.

Leni

13 posted on 02/17/2003 3:54:36 PM PST by MinuteGal (Escape to FReeper Island on "FReeps Ahoy" cruise. Register today or weep later!)
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To: MadIvan


14 posted on 02/17/2003 3:57:08 PM PST by Cicero
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To: MinuteGal
LOL!!!!!
15 posted on 02/17/2003 3:57:21 PM PST by Dog
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To: MadIvan
Napoleon symbolizes everything that is wrong with the French. Although he was certainly one of the great military geniuses of all time, Napoleon simply refused to train his subordinates so that they could operate independently of him. In effect, Napoleon believed absolutely in central command and control through one man -- him. As a result, in order for French troops to be victorious, Napoleon had to be on the scene. And this unwillingness to properly train subordinates so that they could general on their own eventually led to the defeat of the French because Napoleon simply wore out. Even he could not be at all places at all times.

After the Napoleonic Wars ended, the Germans saw how harmful it had been to the French that Napoleon had been unwilling to properly train his people and to then provide them with the support and authority they in order need to win. The German response was to create one of the most successful instititutions of the 19th century, which was the German General Staff. And the reason the German General Staff was so successful was the that its creators saw first hand how important it was to identify and then properly train officers who could carry out operations on their own.

16 posted on 02/17/2003 4:00:46 PM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: jdege
Wonderful excerpt from Hayek, thanks.
17 posted on 02/17/2003 4:07:10 PM PST by tictoc
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To: MadIvan
I was watching Ollie North doing War Stories last night on Fox. When the allies invaded North Africa our first opposition was the French Navy at Casa Blanca. They scuttled their ships and surrendered within hours and have been blaming the American citizen Humphry Bogart ever since.
18 posted on 02/17/2003 4:09:40 PM PST by tubebender (?)
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To: MadIvan
Happygal (who is on the phone to me)


19 posted on 02/17/2003 4:12:19 PM PST by tictoc
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To: MadIvan
Get your daily dose of France-bashing here.
20 posted on 02/17/2003 4:12:30 PM PST by John Farson
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To: tictoc
Not quite yet. ;)

Regards, Ivan

21 posted on 02/17/2003 4:16:23 PM PST by MadIvan
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To: John Farson
Nice blog.
22 posted on 02/17/2003 4:43:58 PM PST by Robert_Paulson2 (clintonsgotusbytheballs?)
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To: jalisco555
I've read that Napoleon's pursuit of glory led to the death of one million Europeans. Fitting that this fool celebrates him.

Now this may be un Legend Urbain, but it has been said that Napoleon reduced the stature of the French male by two inches.

(I originally wrote "shortened the French male," but realized that that was ambiguous ~<]B^)

23 posted on 02/17/2003 4:48:41 PM PST by Erasmus
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To: MinuteGal
Perhaps this perfumed papillon should be sniffing garlic instead.

I have an idea.

Let us all fart in izz gen-e-rall direc-tion!

24 posted on 02/17/2003 4:54:51 PM PST by Erasmus
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To: vbmoneyspender
Napoleon taught the Germans that without a nation state and a strong army they would forever be the victims of their neighbors, a door mat for the french.
25 posted on 02/17/2003 5:01:05 PM PST by nkycincinnatikid
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To: MadIvan
No Frenchman will ever reach Napoleonic levels of greatness. Of course that's due to Napoleon not being French but rather a Corsican.
26 posted on 02/17/2003 5:01:50 PM PST by fso301
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To: jalisco555
Napoleon first great defeat was at the hands of Spanish peasants.

How much more arrogant and hypocritical can the French president get? To threaten the Eastern Europeans by denying them entrance to the European Union because of their support for the United States denotes the delirious mind of an old decrepit leader with Napoleonic dreams who lives disassociated with reality. Doesn’t president Chirac forget that once, during the occupation of Spain by Napoleon Bonaparte, the French soldiers taken prisoner after being defeated by the Spaniards were exchanged for « petit couchons ”?
27 posted on 02/17/2003 5:07:07 PM PST by Dqban22
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To: nkycincinnatikid
The Germans didn't need any lessons with regard to the importance of an effective army. Frederick the Great had already taught them that. As far as the importance of the nation-state was concerned, everyone in Europe knew by the 1800s how important the nation state was. What Napoleon taught the Germans was that when you are dealing with a genius, you needed to have a trained reserve of smart commanders who, though maybe not geniuses, are nevertheless sufficiently skilled in operations that they can handle a fight with a genius. Scharnhorst, who played an important part in the creation of the German General Staff, saw this first hand as the chief of staff for Blucher.
28 posted on 02/17/2003 5:31:06 PM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: MadIvan

29 posted on 02/17/2003 5:32:33 PM PST by Marines981 ("GOD, Marines, and Country")
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To: jdege
In this respect the British philosophers laid the foundations of a profound and essentially valid theory, while the rationalist [French] school was simply and completely wrong.

The two different kinds of revolution in France and the US also illustrate this. The American Revolution was thoughtful and based on Hume, etc., and led to a Republic. The French was brutal, blood-thirsty, run by a madman, and led to dictatorship.

30 posted on 02/17/2003 5:41:04 PM PST by expatpat
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To: nkycincinnatikid
Yeh, the desire for national greatness sure served those Germans well - they got WWI and II out of it. They would have been better off without Bismarck. The centralized state and national greatness ideas didn't serve Italy so well either.

While I agree with the concept of a strong defense it is too tempting for have around as an establishment - like Madaline Albright said "what's the use of having the world's most powerful army if you don't use it?" The founding father's understood this temptation. After serving two terms as errand boy, er I mean president Eisenhower warned us on his way out about the military - indutrial complex, though in the original draft of his speech the evil axis included congress but that part was pulled before delivery.

31 posted on 02/17/2003 6:28:07 PM PST by u-89
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To: vbmoneyspender
I believe we agree. The germans understood that Prussia could not be assumed to produce a Frederick when the times required. A nation state for Germany was not only far from being universally desired, As we know it was never acomplised at all. But the little Germany that was created did so on the Prussian model. Napoleon by coveting the Rhineland for france sealed the end of french domination of the continent when he pronounced the death of the Holy Roman Empire.
32 posted on 02/17/2003 6:35:56 PM PST by nkycincinnatikid
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To: MadIvan
" we can presume from this article that the French are totally crazy"

Amongst other things, and there's a wealth of those.

33 posted on 02/17/2003 6:42:37 PM PST by spunkets
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To: nkycincinnatikid
You may have already read it, but if you are interested in the Napoleonic Wars you might want to read "The Campaigns of Napoleon" by David Chandler. It is a really great book that explains in detail the whys and hows of Napoleon's military successes.
34 posted on 02/17/2003 6:46:54 PM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: u-89
But you reject my point , that far from a desire for national greatness , the historically provincial germans were forced very late to accept nationalism, and militarism in defense of their culture. The genie thereby unleashed proved so threatening to the established states that preemptive wars were assured.
35 posted on 02/17/2003 6:55:43 PM PST by nkycincinnatikid
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To: nkycincinnatikid
the historically provincial germans were forced very late to accept nationalism

Forced together by the warfare of big thinkers like Bismarck. The Germanic States were unified by force by Prussia and not as a voluntary union or confederation like the US. Of course once unified Germany had to play catch up with the other European nations and become an imperial power. It had to have it's proper place under the sun you know. Well they got. And it should be a lesson to us today - all this neocon talk of national greatness and gloabl hegemony is making me nervous.

36 posted on 02/17/2003 7:44:21 PM PST by u-89
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To: jdege
The main force we face is the 19th century German
school of Philosophy headed by Hegel
which gave us Communism, facism, positvism etc..
37 posted on 02/17/2003 7:53:50 PM PST by Princeliberty
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To: u-89
But you miss an aspect not present with our confederation. france with the most powerful army in the world and Russia with the largest, would never have consented to the unification of the Germans, whether by democratic means, monarchial union or silly string. It took a ARMIES and cunning to unite even a portion of Germany. But today the Oder Neise divides Poland and Germany not france and Russia.
38 posted on 02/17/2003 8:10:46 PM PST by nkycincinnatikid
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To: MadIvan
MadIvan: Being here in Brussels, my signature coffee cup at work is a Napoleon mug from Waterloo. Been out to the Prince of Oranges "Mountain" recently with the Boy Scouts who celebrated the first edition of their Historical Battle Trail - providing on the ground walk and history of the battle - kids camp out and get a beautiful patch to keep, plus the memories:)

This was a tragic battle, full of miscalculations, and to the victor went the perspective on Victory - Wellington was lucky to have written his place in history as the winner in this battle as a coalation of the willing was required to defeat Europe's first little corporal; however, it is very true that Napoleon was soundly defeated and the Old French Guard died valantly in defense of their beloved leader who slipped away in a carriage just a few meters from capture at the end of the day; truely a Frenchman to end, the little general fled unlike his German counterparts 150 years later who chose to meet their makers despite their distaste of Nazism, and many of whom took their own lives....

39 posted on 02/17/2003 8:27:24 PM PST by Jumper
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