The weekend of the 11th November 2018 was the centenary of the Armistice ending the First World War. The manner of its commemoration here in France demonstrated the politicisation of the past by a President with an EU agenda.
France has every reason to feel the loss. France was invaded and its northern territory horribly disfigured. France lost 1.3 million soldiers killed and 4.26 million wounded. Tragedy is too feeble a word for it. It’s not surprising then that the annual November 11th commemoration in Paris has a very French focus.
It is surprising, however, that the President of France, Emmanuel Macron shamelessly used the occasion to promote his vision of Europe. That he should invite the Presidents of the USA and Russia among many others to watch a traditionally French commemoration.
Every nation is blind to its own faults, and France is no exception. France sees itself as the Civiliser of the World. France promulgated the Declaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen in 1789. It was Napoleon who advanced the cause and imposed their vision on the rest of Europe, by violent force.
Personally, I have not the slightest doubt that Emmanuel Macron sees himself in this light: a leader of the world’s greatest nation which will export the values and ideals of the French Revolution around the world. He said as much at the commemoration.
November 11th 2018 should above all be a commemoration of the men who lost their lives in 1914 to 1918. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel was there right beside President Macron: Germany saw the highest mortality figures of any one nation, at 1.77 million, closely followed by the Russian dead at 1.7 million. President Putin was there too, but not right beside Mr Macron.
Of course, we all know from the history books that the British Empire stood literally right beside the French on the French and Belgian fields of battle. Without them, the French line would undoubtedly have broken and the history of Europe would have been a very different story.
In the war as a whole, the British Empire lost a million soldiers dead, and over 2 million wounded. The British Army took the worst casualties of any army in a single day when 57,470 were killed on the Somme, on July 1st, 1916. The British army had as many as 5 million men under arms during the First World War.
You would not have known this from the Centenary commemorations in Paris, however.
The British were not there. Not a single representative.
I am accustomed to the French air brushing the role of the United Kingdom out of history and out of the contemporary world scene in their political debates and media reporting.
I am accustomed to the view handed down by De Gaulle that the British inhabit an insignificant little island off the coast of Europe.
I witnessed the French editing of the British role in the D Day landings, commemorated in June 2014. The Americans were feted in a joint commemoration at an American cemetery in Normandy – the British were left to the themselves elsewhere, mentioned as a footnote in the day’s news.
Whatever the reason for Theresa May’s absence, it speaks volumes about today’s British French relations, and it makes a very telling comment on all the contemporary talk of peace and how we should all get along. It speaks volumes too about the paper thin idealism of the European Union…
Whether the British were there or not, however, it didn’t stop President Macron playing politics with the occasion. He repeated the standard line he has been making as he prepares to fight the Euro Elections next Spring, and promotes himself as heir apparent to lead the European Project as Angela Merkel begins to fade away…
The entire event was a stage managed piece of propaganda. Regardless of May’s absence, they could have honoured the massive British contribution when they wrote the script for this event.
The setting was the Arc de Triomphe – a memorial of the battles the French have fought.
Compare that to the Cenotaph in London …
The world’s leaders were present to hear the wise words of the new great European leader as he sought to export the French Revolution worldwide – 21st century style of course.
Macron the actor was in his element, centre stage, delivering his lecture to the assembled leaders, himself of course primus inter pares.
The final word was given to the European Union Youth Orchestra – all in uniform dress, albeit different from the black jackets, black trousers, black boots and yellow neck scarves of the youth contingent who’d spoken the memorial snippets from individual soldiers experiences of the War.
If ever I needed a reminder of why the United Kingdom should not be in the EU, this was it.
Behind the much vaunted idealism, the EU is a Franco German power bid to control Europe. And the millions upon millions of dead and damaged merely served that end this weekend.
It’s as crude as that.
The November 10th Franco-German commemoration of the signing of the Armistice in north eastern France was yet further evidence of that.
The Franco German military force were on parade.
Merkel and Macron were there, of course, but that was it. No other nation invited, including the UK which was represented at the original 1918 signing, and which had provided millions of men on French soil to protect France…
That is because the entire weekend was devoted to the French conception of the future of Europe. Their was no room for any other vision.
That conception started with France and Germany in 1950, and was sealed as a Franco German bid for European hegemony in January 1963 by the Elysee Palace Treaty.
Mr Macron is well qualified to take the role of continental Leader. Having failed to solve the record 3.5 million unemployed in France and the no-go areas where armed drugs gangs rule in the suburbs of major cities, he is the classic candidate for dictator.
A Failure at home, he grand stands on the international stage.
God help us all !
On Tuesday 13th November 2018 Angela Merkel announced before the European ‘Parliament’ the intention to create a full blown European Army. Emmanuel Macron had trailed the idea in the run up to the Armistice Weekend commemorations, upsetting US President Trump in the process. Secret negotiations on security co-operation by UK and EU civil servants have pursued the integration of the UK’s entire Defence capability in this EU project since the historic and ostensibly definitive vote for British Exit from the EU – Brexit – in June 2016. This latter betrayal was highlighted in a post on this site on 8th September 2018 titled Brexit Betrayal – May must go !