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Leader
02 Jun 04,, 04:26
French have much to be humble about
June 1, 2004

The republic's inglorious military history leaves it on the wrong side of debate about proper use of force, writes Gerard Henderson.

Sunday marks the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy in north-west France, which began the liberation of much of Western Europe from Nazi Germany rule. The US President, George Bush, and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will be present at the commemoration. The Prime Minister, John Howard, will have a minor role (about 3000 Australians were involved in the invasion of France, primarily as air crew).

Naturally, France will be represented on June 6 by its President, Jacques Chirac. For the first time, the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, has been invited to a D-Day commemoration.

At a time when the "give-peace-a-chance" mantra is again prevalent in the land, it is worth recording that Adolf Hitler's regime was crushed by military force and that the D-Day landings were led by the Americans and the British. No member of any pacifist society, nor any member of any international organisation, ever troubled Hitler's Reich. What's more, despite Charles de Gaulle's attempt to rewrite history, the French played only a small part in their nation's liberation in 1944 and 1945.

The presence of so many leaders at the one place provides an occasion for some discussions about Iraq before the handover of authority to Iraqis, which will take effect from July 1. There is still a degree of tension between Bush and Chirac concerning France's announcement early last year that it would veto any UN Security Council resolution which would have facilitated an invasion of Iraq by the coalition of the willing.

This is understandable from the coalition's perspective. Early last year Chirac's Government believed that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction. By refusing to support Bush and Blair, France effectively sent a message to Saddam that he had little reason to fear an invasion. In other words, if Iraq had WMD it could keep them - for the short term, at least. And if it did not have WMD, there was no reason to abide by numerous mandatory Security Council resolutions and declare this.

Despite the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, there has been scant "I told you so" refrains from the Elysee Palace in recent months. This possibly reflects a view in France that Chirac went over the top with his criticisms of the Bush Administration before the invasion of Iraq. Whatever the extent of Chirac's evident dislike of Bush, it is not in France's national interest to see Iraq dissolve into civil war or general anarchy.

Last year Chirac gave megalomania a real nudge. During the course of a few months, he criticised the US, lectured Britain and dressed down the new members of the European Union from Central and Eastern Europe. For all Chirac's grandstanding, the French conservatives did poorly in France's regional elections last March.

The events of June 6 serve as a reminder of the fact that over the past century or so, French governments have spoken loudly but carried a small stick. The French fought bravely to turn back the German invasion in 1914 but by 1917 the country's military forces were of little consequence. The German Army was defeated in the field in late 1918 primarily by Commonwealth nations (in which Australians played an important role). The US decision to enter the war in 1917 also put pressure on the German High Command.

In 1940 France was defeated by Germany. There followed widescale collaboration in the German-occupied zone (i.e., in the north-west, centred on Paris) and the unoccupied zone (i.e., in the south, centred on Vichy). The degree of collaboration - which included the deportation of tens of thousands of French Jews to Nazi death camps in the east - was effectively ignored for decades after the war.

The extent of collaboration - on the right and left of French politics - was first revealed by the US historian Robert Paxton in the early 1970s. Recent works in this genre include Adam Nossiter's France and the Nazis, Robert Gildea's Marianne in Chains and Michael Curtis's Verdict on Vichy. Certainly there was some resistance but this mainly became a factor as a German defeat (on the Eastern and Western fronts) seemed evident.

A decade after June 6, 1944, the French were defeated by Vietnamese communist forces at the battle of Dien Bien Phu: 60,000 French troops died in Indochina before the surrender on May 7, 1954. Subsequently, despite the presence of more than 500,000 troops, the French withdrew defeated from Algeria in 1962. French colonialism expired - in Vietnam, then in Algeria - in just a decade.

Some Indochinese settled successfully in France. Not so the 5 million Muslims (about 10 per cent of the population) who live in France following its unsuccessful attempt at colonising parts of North Africa. Critics of multiculturalism in Australia and elsewhere should look at the problems caused when migrant groups are not welcomed into a society.

Today parts of Paris and some major French cities are effectively no-go areas for police and security forces.

There has been a long-term anti-Semitic tradition in France, historically stemming from the right. This intolerance has now been accentuated by an influx of anti-Semites from North Africa. The unpleasant reality is well documented in Marie Brenner's essay in the edited collection Those Who Forget The Past (Random House, 2004).

Added to all this is the fact that the overregulated French economy (along with that of Germany) is holding back European economic growth. The evident fact emerges that Chirac is in no position to lecture the world. Especially in foreign policy where France preaches multilateralism to the US and Britain but practises unilateralism when it sees fit. In Rwanda (on the wrong side of the civil war), the Ivory Coast and even New Zealand (remember France's terrorist attack on the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour?).

Here's hoping this D-Day kick-starts some modesty on the part of the French political class. But don't bet on it.

gerard.henderson@thesydneyinstitute.com.au

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/31/1085855500038.html

Praxus
02 Jun 04,, 04:39
What's interesting is that the Jews in the Warsaw Gheto put up a fight twice as long as the French, lol.

blackhole
02 Jun 04,, 05:16
What's interesting is that the Jews in the Warsaw Gheto put up a fight twice as long as the French, lol.You are right ,but sometimes I wonder how long for example would British last before surrendering to Germans.In my opinion not very long, they had much smaller army and same WW1 tactic.
British expeditionary Army was almost wiped out at Dunkirk remember, if not for Hitler 's order to let them evacuate..Thanks to the Chanell La Manche British were spared same humiliating defeat as the French.

Leader
02 Jun 04,, 05:28
You are right ,but sometimes I wonder how long for example would British last before surrendering to Germans.In my opinion not very long, they had much smaller army and same WW1 tactic.
British expeditionary Army was almost wiped out at Dunkirk remember, if not for Hitler 's order to let them evacuate..Thanks to the Chanell La Manche British were spared same humiliating defeat as the French.

If you recall, the story doesn't end there.

Officer of Engineers
02 Jun 04,, 06:45
You are right ,but sometimes I wonder how long for example would British last before surrendering to Germans.In my opinion not very long, they had much smaller army and same WW1 tactic.

It was alot closer than you believe, the Wehrmacht had exhausted themselves. The British had two Canadian divisions still in Great Britain, had they committed those, the Wehrmacht would have been sitting ducks - litterally.


British expeditionary Army was almost wiped out at Dunkirk remember, if not for Hitler 's order to let them evacuate..Thanks to the Chanell La Manche British were spared same humiliating defeat as the French.

Actually, the Wehrmacht had to stop so that their LOG train had a chance to catch up.

Bill
02 Jun 04,, 11:55
That is still a matter of much contention among historians Sir.

Many historians believe that Hitler held back his armies as a show of power over his victory emboldened generals. It does make sense, and it's the kind of thing Dictators are prone to do....especially insane ones.

Blackhole,

The French Army was led terribly in 1939, which is not the fault of the french soldier in general, but their total surrender after the capture of Paris was totally cowardly.

The US had Washington DC razed to the ground by the Brits during the war of 1812, but you didn't see America surrendering.

ChrisF202
02 Jun 04,, 21:57
Did the Free French even play a role in D-Day besides the French Resistance and the Free French Marine Commandos?

Its very disturbing that the cops cant even enter some area for fear of attacks. We have something called SWAT Teams and Street Crimes Units to handle situations like that. France really needs to grow up and stop the PC crap, part of which allows all the North African muslims to come and burn synagogues and attack rabbis (we devote full resources to investigate all hate crimes here, why cant they?) and the other is being arrogant and supporting dictators. 2,000 Americans die on Omaha Beach in a matter of minutes and they attempt to ignore it?

themuffinman
03 Jun 04,, 05:00
Terrorism, Strike and Justice : My shame to be French


Anne Argillet

The first terrorist to be indicted in the 11. September case is a French Citizen, Zacarias Moussaoui, which does not mean his a French native. However, though he originally came from Morocco, he one day became a French citizen. In other words, he drives now an "image" of his citizenship, that is of France. A bad one, indeed. But it is not the only reason to be ashamed.

For the past twenty years – and in a very most strongly way peculiarly for the past five ones – France has been directed under social-communist theories, as well in the social and economic fields as in every other ones. Nowadays, as everyone can see it here, it does no longer mean anything to speak about the "French Democracy". "French Anarchy" would rather be convenient. The Government is here simply stuck by twenty years of laxity, lack of authority, lack of respect for the citizens, and permanent contempt from the Administration for its civil servants as well as for all other people -that is for the French Republic- along with a permanent self satisfaction.

There is no way to change, reform and improve anything in France without strike and protest.

There is no way to tell the truth, as nobody is ready to hear it. The truth can only be expressed elsewhere but right here.

There is only one mental source here, "la Pensée unique". Other ways to think are implicitly restricted, if not prohibited. Our medias are very careful.

So the "Street" seem to be the only right place to go to solve any kind of problem. But the first one among a lot of them, the one which drives everybody down the streets those days, is our so surprising "35 hours" law, while the Government’s master-word has always been : get job to people (Mrs Aubry still believes that less working might provide more jobs!)

Having a job in France actually does not necessarily mean working. For Working is a liberal concept meaning improvement and awards, which is not acceptable in France yet. Though so many people seem to be looking for a job, when they have one, there is no possibility to work as much as they (a few of them) would like so, for it is now at the higher costs for the Employers. As a matter of fact, it has become kind of a shame to work. For too many people here, (the electoral dependents) there is no pride nor any honor in WORKING. : anyhow, the French Welfare State is ready to feed, cure and lodge anybody for free…. At least, as far as there will be a few people to work and pay for it. France has really become a gorgeous country for spare time ! Much better than for investments !

About terrorism, now : there is in France a superb and idyllic island named Corsica. For the past thirty years, there has been there a very small group of "Nationalist" who would like their island to be autonomous. They are about 2% to want it. That means that 98 % of the people in the Corsica Island are basically French Citizens and just want to keep so. No matter what ‘s the real desire of people. Only black-mail does work here. Violence and fear are the best arms to use in this country so as to obtain anything from the Government. Those few Corsican "terrorists" just keep the fear constant. Whatever is given or done by any Government.

In France, Honor does no longer mean anything. A Spanish Basque terrorist, subject of an international warrant of arrest from Spain, could recently spend a full week in France, attend a meeting of protest with 2,000 people the week before in a big city, facing the policemen without any trouble. It took ten days and a very strong reaction from the Spanish Government for the French police forces to get an order to arrest him, when sitting quietly in a restaurant (because there were no reason for him to hide himself !)

"State of Rights" does no longer mean anything either. The Oil company Total-Fina-Elf is implied in two French dramatic cases : the Erika’s "black tide" two years ago along our Atlantic coast and, recently, the explosion of a chemical factory in Toulouse. Due to many reasons, the files are not solved yet. So, the people from the coasts did not receive most of their indemnities yet, as well as the Toulouse’s inhabitants who have no more windows in their homes for the winter.

So, a small group of protesters decided to sit-in the private family country house of Mr Thierry Desmaret, Chairman of the Company. A novelty, indeed, since the last Revolution! They just put down the doors and windows in the courtyard and widely tagged the stone walls of the castle.

Does someone hear about any complaint lodged by Mr Desmaret ? No information about it.

Anyway, whatever he could do, nobody in the French media would dare to give him a chance. In France, any "Boss" is first suspected to be a "bastard".

Moreover, France is going to be one of the most insecure countries : if we do have policemen, detectives and everything to let the law be respected, they too often work for.. nothing, when they still do : Another recent law supposed to "reinforce" the "presumed innocence" of any delinquent makes them free most of the time. So, when they are arrested (sometimes after months of inquiries) they can be discharged right away by the Justice, no matter what they’ve done.

When thinking of what my friends from the whole world used to admire in my country, from its beauty to its spirit, from its language to its culture, from all of what it used to be to what it is becoming now, I feel not only sad, but frankly despaired and ashamed to be French.

God bless my disgraced Country !

Anne Argillet
Limoges, France

1 In France, it is sometimes much more difficult to declare to be a genuine French that to acquire a French citizenship, as I experienced it on my own.

Imprimer cette page

http://www.conscience-politique.org/international/argilletshamefrench.htm

Bill
03 Jun 04,, 05:56
"Did the Free French even play a role in D-Day besides the French Resistance and the Free French Marine Commandos?"

There was a French division led by DeGaulle that landed after the actual invasion forces at Normandy.

Officer of Engineers
03 Jun 04,, 06:41
That is still a matter of much contention among historians Sir.

Many historians believe that Hitler held back his armies as a show of power over his victory emboldened generals. It does make sense, and it's the kind of thing Dictators are prone to do....especially insane ones.

I realized that and that was my internal debate for over ten years until my CO, MGen Lewis MacKenzie asked a simple question. Even using WWI (ONE) tactics, what would've happenned had the Brits committed the two Canadian divisions in Great Britain at the time?


Blackhole,

The French Army was led terribly in 1939, which is not the fault of the french soldier in general, but their total surrender after the capture of Paris was totally cowardly.

The US had Washington DC razed to the ground by the Brits during the war of 1812, but you didn't see America surrendering.

As a military historian as you obviously are, I would like to move to the next level, so what was wrong with the Maginot Line?

Bill
03 Jun 04,, 07:00
Several things.

Firstly, it was incomplete. Second, it did not extend straight through the low countries. Third, it was inconsistent in that there were areas that were very lightly covered(ardennes anyone?), fourth- and i'd say most importantly, It didn't move...

EDIT: Let me add a fifth, there was no organic manuever element to use the line as an anvil to the manuever elements hammer.

Bill
03 Jun 04,, 07:07
"I realized that and that was my internal debate for over ten years until my CO, MGen Lewis MacKenzie asked a simple question. Even using WWI (ONE) tactics, what would've happenned had the Brits committed the two Canadian divisions in Great Britain at the time?"

That depends how they were commited, and with what mission.

If they were commited as foolishly as the Allies initial troop dispositions were(which is where all the allies problems started to begin with) they'd have just been stuck at Dunkirk with the rest of the Squaddies.

Used as a counterattacking force to attack into the enemys flank or rear they could have been very effective, but there was no sea lift available, and airborne troops hadn't even been adopted by the Brits yet, so it would have taken quite some time to deploy them to the field in continental Europe. It would also be useful to know if they were light infantry or mechanized. That would make quite a difference wrt their usefulness.

If they were good crack mechanized divisions they could have swung round the enemy flank and cut the Nazi's LOCs in two. If they were conscripted light infantry they wouldn't have been able to do much at all to help but to try and dig in and hold Dunkirk.

Officer of Engineers
03 Jun 04,, 07:09
GOOD ANSWERS!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, please check private message concerning OBL. It's somewhat confidential.

However, concerning the Maginot Line, the question is not whether the LOG train was with the Wehrmacht or not (it wasn't, even according to Rommel) but could the French have succeeded with the Maginot Line?

Despite the evidence of the Gustav Line, the Maginot Line could not have worked but it took alot of understanding to know this.

Officer of Engineers
03 Jun 04,, 07:12
"I realized that and that was my internal debate for over ten years until my CO, MGen Lewis MacKenzie asked a simple question. Even using WWI (ONE) tactics, what would've happenned had the Brits committed the two Canadian divisions in Great Britain at the time?"

That depends how they were commited, and with what mission.

If they were commited as foolishly as the Allies initial troop dispositions were(which is where all the allies problems started to begin with) they'd have just been stuck at Dunkirk with the rest of the Squaddies.

Used as a counterattacking force to attack into the enemys flank or rear they could have been very effective, but there was no sea lift available, and airborne troops hadn't even been adopted by the Brits yet, so it would have taken quite some time to deploy them to the field in continental Europe. It would also be useful to know if they were light infantry or mechanized. That would make quite a difference wrt their usefulness.

If they were good crack mechanized divisions they could have swung round the enemy flank and cut the Nazi's LOCs in two. If they were conscripted light infantry they wouldn't have been able to do much at all to help but to try and dig in and hold Dunkirk.

Sorry, did not see this.

This was the same force that did Dieppe. I agree with their usage but at the same time, the Wehrmacht was also at a disadvantage of exhaustion while the Canadians would be fresh.

Bill
03 Jun 04,, 07:13
Like Patton said, "The maginot line is a monument to the stupidity of man".

Ironduke
03 Jun 04,, 07:35
Yeah, the Maginot Line was flawed because it only streched across the French-German frontier, and not the French-Belgian frontier, allowing the Germans to swing down through the Low Countries and attack it from behind. IIRC, the Maginot Line's defenses were fairly fixed facing toward Germany, therefore making it useless in the event that the Germans attacked it from behind.

I'm no military expert, and I say this with the hindsight we have with WWII, but if I were in charge, I would have abandoned static defenses, and drawn the center of the German army groups in on a highly mobile fast moving force in the center, the outflanked it and cut off its lines from the rear.

Even if they Germans decided on a frontal assault on the Maginot Line, I think it's very likely they would have succeeded quite easily. As with any long, static defense line, the defenders have to man the length fairly uniformly, while the attackers can concentrate their forces at a specific point and break through.

The Maginot Line sucked up men and material that would have been better used in a mobile force. 41 French divisions, I've read.

Confed999
04 Jun 04,, 01:57
The Maginot Line sucked up men and material that would have been better used in a mobile force.
That's my answer too. ;) The Maginot Line sucked, because it didn't move.