The Free State
"Man, in a word, has no nature. What he has is - history."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Books, articles, woops

Term's starting again. We're getting reading lists of books and articles and it's time to delve into them to try to relive events past. I'm doing some research on French decolonization at the moment, and I stumbled on this rather disturbing passage describing the French Politicians attitudes towards the reconquest of Indochina by the French Army in 1949:

"Communists, democrats and reactionaries alike mounted to the tribune to pay homage to the French soldier. There was no more certain way to draw applause from all sectors of the Chamber [Parliament] than to pay lavish compliment to the Army. No surer means of curtailing an embarrassing debate than to invoke the need for supporting military moral. [Member of Parliament] Laniel warned the Chamber: "If imprudent words come to be pronounced, the government is perfectly conscious of the damage which might be caused to our troops who are fighting over there so valiantly and to whom I want, in my turn, to pay homage."

- George Kelly in Lost Soldiers (1965)

They talk about "partisanship" in the US, as if there is a gaping chasm between American "Liberalism" and "Conservatism". In postwar France Communists, Democrats, Gaullists and semi-authoritarian Conservatives all agreed on the need to "support the troops".

The Indochinese disaster was the first step in the extremely painful dismantlement of the French Empire. I don't want to make this bad analogy hour so I'll point out America doesn't have an Algeria.. (unless you believe Pat Buchanan)


Blogger scott said...

Bad analogy hour or not, but isn't Iraq America's Algeria?

Great analogy, timely or not.


10:38 AM  
Blogger CJWilly said...

It's true America's had her 'Nam... in which case take heart, France lost completely in Algeria, but that didn't stop her from maintaining her quasi-neocolonial empire in the rest of Africa. (so even if we will leave Iraq, that doesn't mean we will leave Kuwait/Saudi Arabia/Gulf States)

Talking of Algeria, the Newsweek claims US/Iraqi officials say they're in the middle of the "Battle of Baghdad"...

6:29 AM  

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