Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

‘Nous sommes trahis!’: Alistair Horne on the French trait of looking for scapegoats

"Gallic pride can never admit that the nation has been collectively at fault; inevitably, she has been betrayed by an individual or faction."

Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-127-0362-14,_Belgien,_belgischer_Panzer_T13
Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-127-0362-14,_Belgien,_belgischer_Panzer_T13

 

Deep in his very good study, To Lose a Battle: France 1940, Alistair Horne identifies an unappealing French trait: "Gallic pride can never admit that the nation has been collectively at fault; inevitably, she has been betrayed by an individual or faction."

Likewise, William Shirer, in his history of The Collapse of the Third Republic, reports that when a colonel trying to stop fleeing French soldiers, they brushed him aside, saying, “There’s no use trying to fight. There’s nothing we can do. We’re lost. We’ve been betrayed!”

 

Deep in his very good study, To Lose a Battle: France 1940, Alistair Horne identifies an unappealing French trait: “Gallic pride can never admit that the nation has been collectively at fault; inevitably, she has been betrayed by an individual or faction.”

Likewise, William Shirer, in his history of The Collapse of the Third Republic, reports that when a colonel trying to stop fleeing French soldiers, they brushed him aside, saying, “There’s no use trying to fight. There’s nothing we can do. We’re lost. We’ve been betrayed!”

Photo credit: Das Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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