As a senior adviser at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), Dominique Moïsi can usually be relied on to parrot the monolithic thought that pretty much everything American is excessive and can only succeed if tempered by the reasonable advice of Europeans with a humanitarian bent. But in his IHT article on the Lessons of D-Day, even he thought some people went too far.
…I am afraid the torch of memory may stop with these old veterans if new generations are not taught history.How convenient that in the land of Descartes, debates should just happen to put into doubt, directly or indirectly, positive views about the United States! (And rarely, if ever, positive views about, for instance, the "fact" that the French and Europeans are so humanitarian to begin with.)
On the eve of D-Day ceremonies, an association dedicated to the memory of Saint-Lô as it was before the destruction of the city organized a debate in the local theater involving two veterans, survivors of the bombing of the city and high school students aged 15 to 17.
The title of the debate, suggested by questions from the students, was "The Battle of Normandy, Invasion or Liberation?" It was the first troubling sign of the deterioration of the knowledge and understanding of the past.
The questions from the students were even worse. It was clear they were reading D-Day through the filter of Iraq. Their conversation with the survivors of the bombing of the city was most revealing. How could you welcome Americans as liberators, asked the young boys and girls, after they had reduced your city to ashes? Because "it was a sacrifice for France," replied their elders, shocked by the question.
Oh, and by the way — to the Cartesian intellectuals who organized the debate (and who even dreamed it up): How brilliant of you to put into doubt the sacrifice of those who helped to bring down Hitler's Nazi tyranny! To the students: We thank you profusely for the respect you have thus paid to the memory of the Allied troops who were cut down on June 6, 1944, and in the succeeding months. And since the debate was inspired by the students' questions… to the French people: we thank you for creating such an overpowering America-is-the-real-enemy climate that your children think nothing of asking for debates such as these. Encore une fois, merci.