In honor of France’s big day, here’s a clip of the last century’s greatest Frenchman (De Gaulle, naturellement) at a 1962 press conference during which he explained (inconveniently in French, and, even more inconveniently, without sub-titles) what he thought about the idea of a supranational Europe. Not much, basically. The idea was a “utopique construction.” Dante, Goethe and Chateaubriand belonged to Europe, but they were preeminently Italian, German and French. They would not have been much use to Europe if they had been stateless individuals (“apatrides”) thinking and writing in “some harmonized Esperanto or Volapük.” The only possible Europe was the Europe of nation-states. Anything else was just a matter of “myths, fictions, parades.”
Marvelous stuff. A number of his ministers resigned in protest.
De Gaulle was no fan of the wicked Anglo-Saxons, of course. As a somewhat mischievous account by the Daily Telegraph of the visit earlier this week to London by France’s thuggish new president, François Hollande, might suggest, relations between the English and French still need a little work:
During an official visit to London on Tuesday, the French president inspected a Guard of Honour from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards at the Foreign Office. He then appeared in photographs alongside Major James Coleby, who looked around two feet taller than the Gallic head of state. Comments alongside the image on a website of pictures taken by AFP, France’s national news agency, suggested Hollande had fallen into a “trap” made to make him look ridiculous.
…There were also references to Gulliver’s Travels, while others noted how the 5ft 5 ins Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Hollande’s predecessor, made huge efforts to disguise his small stature. These included everything from standing on tiptoe and wooden boxes, as well as wearing stacked heels.
“I find it ridiculous, not because of (Mr Hollande’s) size, but because he falls easily into the traps that Sarkozy knew how to avoid,” wrote another poster under the name ‘Councillor De Mist’. Sebastien Esteve of Marseilles, meanwhile, suggested that Mr Hollande appeared “smaller than Nicolas Sarkozy” alongside the guardsmen, adding the President wore a “badly cut” suit.
The Telegraph piled on:
Arguably the greatest military achievement of the Coldstreams was the part they played in the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
Charles de Gaulle was 6′4″ (or so) . . .