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Was de Gaulle right, do most Brits just lack real affinity for a European ‘project’?

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  • Was de Gaulle right, do most Brits just lack real affinity for a European ‘project’?

    Was de Gaulle right, do most Brits simply lack real affinity for the European ‘project’?

    I’ve watched this Brexit debate with some interest for a while and one thing that has struck me is how little discussion there has been on the forum of the basic motivating undercurrents for the ‘Brexit phenomenon’.

    Much discussion seems to be around the methods and mechanism that the UK Parliament might use to try and somehow implement a referendum outcome most of its members neither expected nor deep down, ever really desired.

    But of course, Parliament is Not the people (despite much whimsical waffling to the contrary).
    A sizeable section of ‘the people’ have it would seem, always had ‘issues’ with European membership.

    Without a lengthy (lodestar, long-winded?? Perish the thought!) overview of the ‘leave movement’, suffice to say there was enough support (for a variety of reasons) to narrowly carry a referendum vote to leave he European Union.

    Now I was educated to be very careful when referring to past comments or observations by historical figures, then trying to apply them to current situations or developments.
    This because of issues like the context of the comments, the intent and sincerity of the remarks when they were made and referencing the said quote or idea inappropriately.

    However, on occasion some observation by a historical figure seems to be particularly insightful and anticipatory.
    Charles de Gaulle’s observations on British attitudes to ‘the Continent’ are a case in point, made all the more interesting in light of recent developments.

    I won’t go into an extensive analysis of de Gaulle as a post-war leader because his career is certainly well covered.

    Cripes, he was and is in many ways, an archetypal ‘Love him or hate him’ figure.

    His objections to British entry into the European Union (or ‘Common Market’ as the project was called in its’ early manifestation) and his vetoing of the British applications pre1970 are a major and still controversial part of his legacy.

    I remember reading that his real objection (as opposed to his publicly stated ones) was that he sensed that the British (God bless ‘em, gov…God bless ‘em) would never whole-heartedly sign up to a European unity project.
    Please spare me any quips that the Third Reich can be seen as a European unity project.

    He sensed this as a result of his observation of the Brits while he was in exile in the UK in WWII and what he saw of their behavior in the early post-war era.

    This was because he felt British ‘gut-level’ affinity and outlook were always at heart ‘oceanic’ rather than European or ‘Continental.
    Meaning of course that their kinship was would always essentially be with the ‘Anglo-sphere’ including the USA at that time.

    de Gaulle always s thought that even if they joined, many Brits would simply find the presence of ‘their island’ in an essentially ‘continental body too awkward and basically ‘unnatural’ for Britain.

    Anyway, I promised myself I’d try and avoid my much vaunted penchant for long-windedness so I just leave it at that for now.

    Interested in what posters might think.

    Regards
    lodestar

  • #2
    It's not so much affinity with the wider world but a desire for freedom of action and independence. Not to be ruled by a foreign overlord.

    "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Surrey View Post
      It's not so much affinity with the wider world but a desire for freedom of action and independence. Not to be ruled by a foreign overlord.
      Well- if anyone should be a specialist in "lack of affinity"- it would be Charles De Gaulle...
      The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

      Comment


      • #4
        I've read extensively on the General, and regardless of his attitude towards the Brits post war, I do not believe he would have approved of what the institutions of the EU have morphed into today.

        In fact, I seriously doubt that Jean Monnet many other architects and founders of the EU would recognize what it has become.

        That said, the General was right about about of things. Made a few missteps and errors like anyone does, but over all was without a doubt the greatest leader France ever had in the modern era.
        You'll live, only the best get killed.

        -General Charles de Gaulle

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by lodestar View Post
          Was de Gaulle right, do most Brits simply lack real affinity for the European ‘project’?

          I’ve watched this Brexit debate with some interest for a while and one thing that has struck me is how little discussion there has been on the forum of the basic motivating undercurrents for the ‘Brexit phenomenon’.

          Much discussion seems to be around the methods and mechanism that the UK Parliament might use to try and somehow implement a referendum outcome most of its members neither expected nor deep down, ever really desired.

          But of course, Parliament is Not the people (despite much whimsical waffling to the contrary).
          A sizeable section of ‘the people’ have it would seem, always had ‘issues’ with European membership.

          Without a lengthy (lodestar, long-winded?? Perish the thought!) overview of the ‘leave movement’, suffice to say there was enough support (for a variety of reasons) to narrowly carry a referendum vote to leave he European Union.

          Now I was educated to be very careful when referring to past comments or observations by historical figures, then trying to apply them to current situations or developments.
          This because of issues like the context of the comments, the intent and sincerity of the remarks when they were made and referencing the said quote or idea inappropriately.

          However, on occasion some observation by a historical figure seems to be particularly insightful and anticipatory.
          Charles de Gaulle’s observations on British attitudes to ‘the Continent’ are a case in point, made all the more interesting in light of recent developments.

          I won’t go into an extensive analysis of de Gaulle as a post-war leader because his career is certainly well covered.

          Cripes, he was and is in many ways, an archetypal ‘Love him or hate him’ figure.

          His objections to British entry into the European Union (or ‘Common Market’ as the project was called in its’ early manifestation) and his vetoing of the British applications pre1970 are a major and still controversial part of his legacy.

          I remember reading that his real objection (as opposed to his publicly stated ones) was that he sensed that the British (God bless ‘em, gov…God bless ‘em) would never whole-heartedly sign up to a European unity project.
          Please spare me any quips that the Third Reich can be seen as a European unity project.

          He sensed this as a result of his observation of the Brits while he was in exile in the UK in WWII and what he saw of their behavior in the early post-war era.

          This was because he felt British ‘gut-level’ affinity and outlook were always at heart ‘oceanic’ rather than European or ‘Continental.
          Meaning of course that their kinship was would always essentially be with the ‘Anglo-sphere’ including the USA at that time.

          de Gaulle always s thought that even if they joined, many Brits would simply find the presence of ‘their island’ in an essentially ‘continental body too awkward and basically ‘unnatural’ for Britain.

          Anyway, I promised myself I’d try and avoid my much vaunted penchant for long-windedness so I just leave it at that for now.

          Interested in what posters might think.

          Regards
          lodestar
          Gen De Gaulle,
          was an accomplished Historian, though paid more attention to French History.

          His observations were based on British Historical attitude towards European Mainland in past centuries.

          Also he had a lengthy argument with Churchill duriing about Britain choosing " Open Sea " in comparison to European countries.

          De Gaulle had to face Anglo-Saxon opposition, if i may quote so.

          European Union has now very tough job to have a major power going its own way.

          European countries have the Golden opportunity to carve out a truly European Army, to insure stability. And should have an Instrument ready to take over collective defences, In most likely event of ultimate demise of NATO. As Isolationist policies will force US out of Europe eventually.

          They must re read the writings of De Gaulle about danger of Communist take over of Europe.
          Only correction is this time it is economic Imperialism of Middle Kingdom of China.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by asterix View Post
            I've read extensively on the General, and regardless of his attitude towards the Brits post war, I do not believe he would have approved of what the institutions of the EU have morphed into today.

            In fact, I seriously doubt that Jean Monnet many other architects and founders of the EU would recognize what it has become.

            That said, the General was right about about of things. Made a few missteps and errors like anyone does, but over all was without a doubt the greatest leader France ever had in the modern era.
            OK' I'll agree with you, although Hubert Essame might not.

            IIRC, Didn't Laval's Vichy regime condemn him to death in Absentia?
            The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by marktwain View Post

              Well- if anyone should be a specialist in "lack of affinity"- it would be Charles De Gaulle...
              Yes. He seemed very aloof.

              May outsmart a truly stiff upper lip.

              He never minced, his words.

              Only and Only the welfare of France and its people mattered him.

              It was notable that Winston Churchill the worthy descendent of Duke of Marlborough .

              use to call him. Connétable de France

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by asterix View Post
                I've read extensively on the General, and regardless of his attitude towards the Brits post war, I do not believe he would have approved of what the institutions of the EU have morphed into today.

                In fact, I seriously doubt that Jean Monnet many other architects and founders of the EU would recognize what it has become.

                That said, the General was right about about of things. Made a few missteps and errors like anyone does, but over all was without a doubt the greatest leader France ever had in the modern era.
                Le Grand Charles , was generally correct most of the times in my humble opinion.

                He would have certainly disliked the current setup of European Union.



                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by marktwain View Post

                  IIRC, Didn't Laval's Vichy regime condemn him to death in Absentia?
                  Yes it was Philippe Pétain,

                  But de Gaulle was nice to him.

                  Philippe Pétain was his first Commanding Officer . later turned enemy .

                  De Gaulle respected him ,

                  Philippe Pétain according to De Gaulle taught him the Gift and Art of Command as Co.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by asterix View Post
                    I've read extensively on the General, and regardless of his attitude towards the Brits post war, I do not believe he would have approved of what the institutions of the EU have morphed into today.

                    In fact, I seriously doubt that Jean Monnet many other architects and founders of the EU would recognize what it has become.

                    That said, the General was right about about of things. Made a few missteps and errors like anyone does, but over all was without a doubt the greatest leader France ever had in the modern era.
                    And the Americans who died on the beaches on June 6th, 1944 would say you are wrong. He was narcissistic, arrogant and anti-everyone but France, and he never forgave anyone for not publicly acknowledging his greatness.

                    He is also the only leader of France to almost be overthrown with the willing assistance of the Foreign Legion due to his mishandling of Dien ben Phu.

                    He would, in fact, approve of the EU today so long as he was in charge of it.
                    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                      And the Americans who died on the beaches on June 6th, 1944 would say you are wrong. He was narcissistic, arrogant and anti-everyone but France, and he never forgave anyone for not publicly acknowledging his greatness.

                      He is also the only leader of France to almost be overthrown with the willing assistance of the Foreign Legion due to his mishandling of Dien ben Phu.

                      He would, in fact, approve of the EU today so long as he was in charge of it.
                      Did no other nationalities die or were maimed on the beaches then? Your arrogance equals "mon general's"

                      As for his being "the greatest leader France ever had in the modern era" as our diminutive Gallic cartoon character contends, not difficult considering the competition although I suspect that Tiger Clemenceau might have chewed him up and spat him out - so in that area I would agree.
                      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                        He is also the only leader of France to almost be overthrown with the willing assistance of the Foreign Legion due to his mishandling of Dien ben Phu.
                        .
                        It was his policy in Algeria that led to the plotting against him in 1961
                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algiers_putsch_of_1961
                        Interestingly it was the threat of a coup in 1958 over the same issue that brought him back to power.
                        However he didn't act how the military thought he would.
                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1958_crisis_in_France


                        Dien Bien Phu happened in 1954 when De Gaulle wasn't even in power, Pierre Mendes France being the President then.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Not all of us, but in certain quarters, pretty much. The prevailing view of, "The Continent," as people who just aren't like us is pretty well entrenched.
                          Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CarpeDiem View Post

                            It was his policy in Algeria that led to the plotting against him in 1961
                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algiers_putsch_of_1961
                            Interestingly it was the threat of a coup in 1958 over the same issue that brought him back to power.
                            However he didn't act how the military thought he would.
                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1958_crisis_in_France


                            Dien Bien Phu happened in 1954 when De Gaulle wasn't even in power, Pierre Mendes France being the President then.
                            De Gaulle, however, was credited as being one of the driving fores behind the refusal to allow the Legion to try a fighting withdrawal. He was already demanding that France be a separate nuclear power s early as April, 1954.

                            I served for several years in Europe while DeGaulle governed France. His anti-Americanism as well as his anti-Natoism was well known and constantly on display. At the same time, French troops occupying Germany were the sloppiest anywhere and mostly played soccer in the kasernes. I also trained at an urban warfare center run by the French, who were completely inept and entirely useless.

                            Additionally,DeGaulle refused to allow American families to be evacuated through France to Atlantic ports, pretty much negating the entire USAREUR NEO plan.

                            If the Soviets had tried then, DeGaulle would not and could not have stopped them.
                            Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              But there's Europe...and Europe.
                              Prior to the establishment of the present European Union, there were two seperate and distinct Free Trade Areas; the "Inner Six" and the "Outer Seven".
                              The latter was EFTA: the Euopean Free Trade Association, which comprised the UK, Norway,Sweden,Denmark,Austria, Portugal and Switzerland. This was the Europe with which the UK might be said to have an affinity. Scandinavia has historic links with the UK going back a millenium and a half. Portugal was England's oldest ally. Britian has never had any conflict with Switzerland .

                              That was an arrangement with which, in hindsight, might well have worked.
                              "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                              Samuel Johnson.

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