June 01, 2004

President Bush’s speech at Normandy, ‏2004

Steven Den Beste has posted his fantasy of President Bush’s speech at Normandy. I might as well post mine.

Sixty years ago our soldiers came to these shores to save this land from brutal dictatorship – savage tyranny on a scale never seen before – many of them never to come home. By the end of the Battle of Normandy, there were over 200,000 allied casualties, plus 20,000 French civilian casualties – mostly collateral damage of allied bombing. Today these numbers would be unacceptable – too high a price to pay for another country’s freedom. Even if allied casualties were minimal, 20,000 French civilian casualties would be too high a price to pay. The French would rather be Nazi slaves than lose 20,000 civilians and be free. No matter that the Nazis killed many times that number in France alone – it’s purely an internal matter, they would say. The US is in violation of international law. The President is a war criminal. The Americans are acting unilaterally, with only the usual Anglo-Saxon hangers-on and a few suspect French exiles that are, no doubt, pawns of the Americans.

The most tragic thing is that this horrific loss of life, not to mention the murders committed by the Nazis, could have been prevented by a modicum of courage at an earlier date.

America didn’t go to war willingly. The American peace camp kept us out of the war while it raged in Europe and Asia, while Germany occupied most of the continent of Europe, and began the “Final Solution” – the systematic extermination of the Jews. It was only when the United States itself was attacked that we went to war. Who knows how many lives we would have saved – our own and others’ – if we had gone to war a few years earlier.

But even this should not have been necessary. The occupation of Czechoslovakia by Germany in 1941 [UPDATE: 1939, see comments], usually considered the beginning of World War II, was only the last of a long series of provocations, any one of which could have justly led to war – a shorter and less destructive war than the one which, in the end, we were forced to fight. In 1938 Germany demanded part of Czechoslovakia – the Sudetenland – which the UK and France were bound by treaty to defend. Shamefully, they backed down under the threat of violence, convincing themselves that they were acting nobly in the interest of peace. Hitler didn’t appreciate the subtlety and nuance of this thinking (or maybe he appreciated it only too well) and took it as a sign that he could occupy the rest of Czechoslovakia at will.

Six months before the German occupation of the Sudetenland, Germany occupied Austria. That was another lost opportunity to stop the Nazi terror. But the best opportunity was lost five years earlier. In 1933 Germany violated the terms of Versailles treaty, militarized the Rhineland, and occupied the Saar. It is now thought that any military opposition by France would have led to the overthrow of Hitler. But there was no opposition.

We are now engaged in another war, in another country, for the freedom of its people, the people of its region, and the world. Let us not repeat our mistakes.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at June 1, 2004 11:18 AM
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Correction: Czechoslovakia (or the remnants of it, after Sudetenland was passed in 1938) was occupied in March 1939, not in 1941.

Posted by: Pavel Kohout at June 2, 2004 04:44 PM Permalink

And for those who believe that "force" is never the answer...Back when Germany re-occupied the Rhineland in 1936, the initial German forces leading the advance were under orders to retreat from ANY resistance. One French farmer with a shotgun standing on the road could have sent the force (3 battalions, about 3000 troops.) scurrying back to their barracks, and weaken Hitler that he would been close to finished.

But of course, the gutless among the West (Not just in France.) decided to appease Hitler because the reoccupation would, after all, right a historical wrong done to Germany...

C.T.

Posted by: C.T. at June 2, 2004 05:40 PM Permalink

Greetings to visitors from USS Clueless! I cordially invite you to visit the rest of my blog!


Posted by: David Boxenhorn at June 2, 2004 06:33 PM Permalink

Let's not forget that when British, Canadian and American forces landed at Normandy in 1941, that it was the second time in twenty five years that France needed to be rescued. And also that the oppressive and punitive measures demanded by France in the Versailles treaty contributed in great measure to the economic blight in Germany that played a part in the birth and growth of the National Socialist party. While I'm thinking of it, there was this place called Dien Bien Phu in "French Indochina" where some French soldiers needed rescuing. What was it again that the US got for that effort?

Posted by: Len Faria at June 2, 2004 06:50 PM Permalink

More ridiculous French bashing I see. What is happening to this country? Everyone seems so resentful and full of hatred. Americans could take a lesson from the French it seems:

From Joe Scarbourough on MSNBC:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5121208/

BUCHANAN: Good evening. I‘m Pat Buchanan. Joe Scarborough is in France preparing for the 60th anniversary of D-Day this weekend. He joins us live from Paris to talk about how the French are about to welcome President Bush.

Joe, how are you? Are you getting combat pay over there?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Getting combat pay behind enemy lines.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN: You‘re not damaging our relations, are you?

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

I‘ll tell you what. It‘s been a fascinating few days over here so far, as we prepare for the president coming to town. And, you know, the Paris papers obviously are not extending the president a warm welcome. “Le Monde” has been called before (INAUDIBLE)

And it‘s been predictably hostile. In fact, it‘s run some negative editorials on the president, saying he‘s coming over here to attack John Kerry. And it also says that George Bush is the exact opposite of the values that we like in Americans.

But I‘ll tell you what surprised me, Pat, the past few days. It‘s obvious that Parisians, who are thought to be predictably nasty, do like Americans. I was here in the 1980s in the middle of the Reagan administration, and there was such open hostility towards Ronald Reagan and what was happening back then and towards Americans.

But since I‘ve been over here, whether you go to cafes, whether you go in stores on the street, I can tell you, there‘s been an extraordinary warmth and kindness towards me and other Americans over here. And I‘ve talked to other Americans who come here regularly, and they say that there is—that actually Parisians are kinder to them than they‘ve been in some time. So there‘s a real disconnect in how they feel towards George W. Bush and how they feel towards Americans in general. I‘ve been very surprised. But...

BUCHANAN: They‘re sort of going out of their way, are they, Joe, to say, look, we‘ve got problems with the president and the policy of the Americans, but we‘ve got no problems with the Americans, we like them, and they‘re sort of going out of their way to compensate?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, they certainly are.

And I don‘t know. Perhaps it‘s because the 60th anniversary is coming up. But you read newspapers, you read magazines, you go past magazine stands, they‘re talking about the 60th anniversary. They believe it‘s a very big thing. Also, you look at the news. I can‘t understand exactly what they‘re saying on TV, but the news shows are also talking about the 60th anniversary coming up with great anticipation.

There‘s not this snide detachment that a lot might expect from Parisians here. And, again, as you probably know, I have probably gone after the French more than anybody in the past year, but I can tell you there‘s a kindness.

Posted by: John M at June 2, 2004 07:04 PM Permalink

It's too bad that we didn't vaporize Paris to get rid of the Nazi's. The French should have been liberated from this earth. They do deserve their 72 virgins.

Posted by: Henry David at June 2, 2004 07:04 PM Permalink

Another slight correction. The accepted beginning of World War II was not when Hitler took over the rest of Czechoslovakia. The war began began on September 1, 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland.

Posted by: Atlanta Lawyer at June 2, 2004 07:13 PM Permalink

John M:

I followed the link you gave us, and found this:

TIMMERMAN: Oh, I think there‘s every effort being made by the Bush White House, by the president personally, to do so. He‘s going to have dinner with President Chirac on June 5.

He‘s actually going to let Mr. Chirac speak first at the American cemetery in Normandy when they‘re there on June 6 in the morning. This is unprecedented, by the way. I was there 30 years ago for the D-Day celebrations with my first tour in France.

What do you think of the idea that Bush will have two speeches in his pocket - just waiting to see what kind of speech Chirac will give? (Even the threat of such a thing can be used to good effect.)

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at June 2, 2004 08:11 PM Permalink

Traveled overalnd from Dresden to Prague in 2002. Poor ground for an assault. The Czechs could have held out a looooong time if they hadn't been given away. A looooooong time...

Posted by: crionna at June 2, 2004 08:59 PM Permalink

What utter garbage. At least Scarborough has the guts to challenge his prejudice and travel to Normandy to see the carefully-tended American cemetaries that receive more honor than the fate Den Beste wants to bestow upon their occupants.

But as d-squared put it, your hatred of France is independent of all facts in the world. Which makes you just a bit like Osama, doesn't it?

Posted by: squibble at June 2, 2004 10:13 PM Permalink

This last post really sounds me of the "ask you why do they hate us". Just stop saying the same all along the web. After all, we have the right to think whatever we like about the French (the same they have about us).

Posted by: Sir Sefirot at June 2, 2004 10:40 PM Permalink

Hi de hi,
Arguments.
The French dislike Bush for the same reason they gave you that statue for New York: they like freedom and liberty.
They just have a different way of going about it.
Jeez.

Posted by: Shoogle at June 2, 2004 11:27 PM Permalink

As a first time visitor from the Clueless, I can honestly say that the majority of the comments here are ridiculous. F the French. John M. thinks its okay if they hate our gov't, military, and leaders, as long as they are nice to our TV hosts' faces. Squibble has forgotten how the "carefully tended cemeteries" were desecrated last year, presumably by French citizens, not the gov't. And Shoogle thinks Socialism is a great way to pursue freedom and liberty.
Go ahead and pick sides if you want, but remember the French are no longer the best at anything, and since they used to be quite good at lots of things, it leads to a lot of finger-pointing, hypocrisy, and complaining (see the last 100 years of history).

Posted by: Rob at June 2, 2004 11:53 PM Permalink

--There‘s not this snide detachment that a lot might expect from Parisians here. And, again, as you probably know, I have probably gone after the French more than anybody in the past year, but I can tell you there‘s a kindness.--

Hmm, seems they were paying attention when tourism was down. After all, one does tend to catch more flies w/honey.....

Now if we can get them to change their history books and teach the fact the USSR was trying to be an empire and we aren't......instead of Papa Stalin and buds as nice old bears....John Adams pegged them 200 years ago. And after watching IKE and Ike's exchange w/deGalled......

ALso from SDB....

Posted by: Sandy P at June 3, 2004 02:40 AM Permalink

France is a rival, not an ally.
At least, they want to be a rival, but they really can't do much other than throw insults at us.

They never quite got over the 1940 defeat and the loss of great power status. Perhaps they should try therapy?

Posted by: Mike at June 3, 2004 02:33 PM Permalink

C.T. says "One French farmer with a shotgun standing on the road could have..."

What a great basis for a time-travel story. After all, if you could only send back in time a couple of soldiers, where would they have the most leverage....

Posted by: Tom at June 3, 2004 11:36 PM Permalink

David,

I had the same thought you did: Letting Chirac go first means Bush gets to be polite if Chirac is polite, and rip his lungs out if he isn't. :-)

Posted by: Greg D at June 4, 2004 12:38 AM Permalink

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