The Long Goodbye

By James Fallows

By Edward Goldstick

I've got one longish and two shortish posts in the works that I hope Jim and his colleagues will allow me to get in before I sign off ...

... but for now, here's a short three part ode to what's good in the French as in ...

The Good:  a musical "Sunday Promenade"
The Bad:  Francophobia and the abuse of history to avoid asking real questions

The Ugly: How Obama Failed in Egypt? (emphasis added as in "Obama?")

With the second two are offered below the fold so as to not irritate the restful among you (whatever sabbatical and/or spiritual sense might apply).

Bon Dimanche!



The Bad:  Francophobia and the abuse of history to avoid asking real questions...

Upon reading it, my wife observed that Charles Krauthammer's weird OpEd bookends ("Obama's Louis XV Budget") merit a retort by someone of Fallowesque stature that I have yet to see elsewhere, so here are her points:

- Louis XV started his reign with the debt accumulated by Louis XIV;

- Louis XV exacerbated things by triggering the Seven Years War with Great Britain (which simultaneously 'trained' the American insurgency, so let's hope that second part is not prophetic...);

- Only the Third Estate was taxed in the France; that is, the nobility and the clergy were not even taxed one centime when the national debt grew due to those foreign adventures and other royal extravagances (and it hardly be said that there were many "welfare queens").

- And let's not forget the John Law "invented" financial experimentation and speculative bubble...

Sounds familiar?

And yes, lest defenders of Bush the Younger and/or Obama the First* find that the allusions and connections are both too obvious and a bit muddled, that is the point...

* as in the First "integrated, multicultural, multifaceted, post-Postmodern [sic] POTUS"... but that's an even better endpoint.


The Ugly: How Obama Failed in Egypt? (emphasis added)

... and yes, I am referring to this latest attention-grabbing "thoughtful" polemic that I will not attack point for point (Heavens to Betsy!  I didn't even go to Harvard...); however, the connection with France and European history is plain for me in the penultimate paragraph:

Bismarck knew how to choose. He understood that riding the nationalist wave would enable Prussia to become the dominant force in Germany, but that thereafter the No. 1 objective must be to keep France and Russia from uniting against his new Reich. When asked for his opinion about colonizing Africa, Bismarck famously replied: "My map of Africa lies in Europe. Here lies Russia and here lies France, and we are in the middle. That is my map of Africa."

How'd all that turn out?  It is certainly unfair to blame the Prussians for all the horrors that followed.  It's unfair to blame either Grant or Lee (and Lincoln or Davis) for the carnage that transpired "among" The States to retain The Union... but it's certainly misguided to ignore that some did see the cataclysm as it arrived when they were discounted and ignored or worse... and some, to be frank (no pun intended) make for moving melodies... as in here and here.

Edward Goldstick is a veteran of the high-tech, software, defense, and energy-technology worlds in the US and France.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/personal/archive/2011/02/the-long-goodbye/71490/