Charles the Not-So-Grand

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dulcinea
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Charles the Not-So-Grand

Post by dulcinea » Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:26 pm

:D :D :D What is your take on Charles De Gaulle? Thirty-six years after his death, he comes across as a slightly ridiculous figure who never quite grasped that the France he ruled was not even the merest shadow of the Frances of Louis IX, Henry IV, Louis XIV, the two Napoleons or Clemenceau. :D :D :D
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jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jun 18, 2006 12:43 am

Have you ever read the book "The Frenchman and the Seven Deadly Sins"? It's been a long time and I do not have the exact citation.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Madame
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Post by Madame » Sun Jun 18, 2006 2:52 am

dulcinea wrote::D :D :D What is your take on Charles De Gaulle? Thirty-six years after his death, he comes across as a slightly ridiculous figure who never quite grasped that the France he ruled was not even the merest shadow of the Frances of Louis IX, Henry IV, Louis XIV, the two Napoleons or Clemenceau. :D :D :D
I think he had difficulty differentiating between himself and France -- his country's image was his image, and vice versa.

It's important to read about his early years as a military leader and historian, and his less than glorious role as the leader of the French Resistance during WWII (he had been sentenced to death for treason in 1940) -- he was not permitted to participate on D-Day. He harbored resentment toward the Americans, who did not support his military vision prior to the war, and then were regarded as heroes who rescued his nation from what he believed could have been avoided had his position against Germany been respected and supported in the first place. I think the only American he ever liked was Jackie Kennedy!

Personally, I think one of his biggest black marks was to re-establish French colonialism under the new constitution in 1946. It was a regressive undertaking, in violation of the spirit of self-determination following the war, bringing back the miseries of oppression in Vietnam. Not to mention setting the stage for U.S. involvement 20 years later.

jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jun 18, 2006 3:05 am

By all means, let's be as fair as we can here. The man was a complete nut case and it was only because he was associated with a country as lovably nutty as France that he did not become a monster equal with certain of his contemporaries.

He advocated a European Union early on but only because he thought France should be outside of it and rule it. He withdrew France (extremely unwisely) from the NATO military command. And then there's the famous "Vive le Quebec libre!" which was complicit in at least one assassination.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Sun Jun 18, 2006 6:51 am

De Gaulle rallied the Free French and was an inspiration to many while a difficult thorn in the Allies' side. Neither Roosevelt nor Churchill could really work with him. He was appeased more than consulted. But for France when a symbol was needed, he fit the bill.

As a military commander before and at the beginning of the war, he was highly competent and farsighted as a tactician. He really had no place among the great Western commanders after Dunkirk but he never accepted that.

After the war he was determined that France regain its mythical glory and retain its rebellious colonies. He failed at everything and cost many French soldiers and civilians their lives.

Here's the French nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the Charles De Gaulle:

Image
Image

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Post by RebLem » Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:15 am

I think the worst mark against DeGaulle was that "Vive la Quebec libre" remark. But besides that, I have a generally favorable view of him.

DeGaulle's greatest achievement was bringing political stability to France with the creation of the Fifth Republic. I remember that at the time, all the commentators and TV talking heads said it would not survive his death by more than five years, that it was tailored to his personality and that weaker people would not be able to make it work. They were wrong, obviously, but to the best of my knowledge, not one of those cavilling cowards has ever had the basic decency to admit it.

He also ended the Algerian War, and brought self determination to the colonies.

And yes, he took France out of the NATO military command, and made the US leave their French bases, but remained in the alliance. But then came the Cuban Missle Crisis, when he called President Kennedy to assure him that if it came to war, despite all the differences he had had with the US, "France will be with you." The fact that the consequences of war would have been impossibile for France to avoid in the nuclear age does not diminish, in my view, the importance of this statement of his basic commitment to the western alliance.
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