Monday, April 25, 2005

Those Stunning French Leaders and Their Spectacle-Making Decisions

As Allied forces liberated France and Europe some sixty years ago, Charles de Gaulle allegedly told Winston Churchill, "We shall stun you with our ingratitude."

According to a Patrick Jarreau article, it turns out that, some ten years ago, Jacques Chirac told his closest collaborators that "I will stun you with my demagoguery."

It often seems that what moves the French most (leaders and citizens alike) is whether the effect is stunning or theatrical or ostentatious, not whether it is the right move, a just one, one that is seen as friendly to (and by) its closest allies, or even… the best move for France.

Thus, one French high school history book described Charles de Gaulle's refusal to attend the 20th anniversary of D-Day in 1964 as "France's spectacular decision to stay away".

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