Having grown up in the States among people with a healthy contempt for France, I was exposed to all manner of jokes at the expense of the French people. It was at a very young age that I heard the following:
Did you know French tanks are built with only one gear?
Routed by the Germans not just once but twice in the first 50 years of the century past seemed to have earned the French the unfortunate reputation of being adept at retreat.
When I went off to college my area of interest was 20th Century Europe… which one cannot study without a great deal of interest in Military History. I took a particular interest in Military Strategy during this time… though I was of course fascinated by the politics. What I learned about WWI and WWII taught me many things about Systems, people, Humanity, etc…
It also gave me a more nuanced view of the French.
A tank with one gear is problematic. Especially when that gear is Reverse. But there is something worse than a tank that can only go backwards… namely, a tank stuck in Neutral.
In defense of the French, there were plausible, unforeseen technologies in play… and the manner in which war itself was waged – the way generals and majors went about conducting it – had never morphed so radically as it did between the late 1800s and the onset of WWI. Other tectonic shifts became obvious as WWII broke out, as all of you well know. It stands, however weakly, that the French can appeal to us on this score.
But there is something else, however, one must acknowledge about the French: they knew when to disengage from battle. Or, if you prefer, retreat. Or, if you prefer, live to fight another day. That is, in studying the record, one sees that some semblance of strategy is to be found as it relates to the behavior of the French in both of the World Wars.
I cannot say the same thing about the current president. It is truly bizarre. Good God, man! Man up! Advance, hold, or retreat.
Hitler, the record shows, had truly lost touch at the twilight of the Third Reich. One such way we know this is from the orders he was issuing to his field generals up until the very end: to advance on this position or hold that position even though there were no troops left to advance or hold.
I look at Obama now and I am starting to feel a bit sorry for him. He is a starry-eyed boy sitting stunned and confused on a very real and brutal battlefield. I am no Unionista, but from my point of view he is perhaps the last person I would ever follow into battle. And not just because his tank remains in Neutral.