Friday, March 28, 2003

Stating the Obvious

The really interesting thing about Dominique de Villepin's paean to Napoleon's disastrous Hundred Days Campaign lies in his historical blindness to Napoleon's diplomatic incompetence, which is troubling in a putative Foreign Minister of a European "power." : Les Cent-Jours ou l'esprit de sacrifice For all of de Villepin's idiotic veneration of "glory," he misses the point that a real genius of the diplomatic world made to the Corsican:

Napoleon tried persuasion. "Your sovereigns", he said, "who were born to their thrones cannot comprehend the feelings that move me. To them it is nothing to return to their capitals defeated. But I am a soldier. I need honour and glory. I cannot reappear among my people devoid of prestige. I must remain great, admired, covered with glory." For that reason, he said, he could not accept the proposed conditions of peace. Metternich replied, "But when will this condition of things cease, in which defeat and victory are alike reasons for continuing these dismal wars? If victorious, you insist upon the fruits of your victory; if defeated, you are determined to rise again." Napoleon made various offers for Austria's neutrality, but Metternich declined all bargaining, and Napoleon's oft repeated threat, "We shall meet in Vienna", was his ominous farewell to Metternich. An astute observation that shoots over Dominique's head

In addition, Napoleon's sly genius in engendering permanent emnity with the world's greatest sea power and empire (England-which bore its final logical fruit at Waterloo) surely commends itself to the mind of every negotiator as the beau ideal of international relations.

That such a tin-eared individual would be promoted to France's highest diplomatic post says volumes about the state of Gaullic indifference to its own best long-term interests. Why, imagine what would happen if Germany would promote a Marxist terrorist-sympathizer to head its Foreign Ministry! Wait a moment...

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