La France Moderne: Le Miroir est Brisé

I once heard, as most people have, a saying that proclaimed 'it doesn't matter what they say about you as long as they are talking about you.' Or "there is no such thing as bad publicity." This may very well attach itself to France.

By design, France is a suave and sophisticated nation that has contributed much to the world. At different points in time, and often at the same time throughout history.

From the ashes of the Merovingians and Carolingians, the Frankish Kingdom of Gaul rose to become a great country. Of course, all things must come to an end. Modern France is in serious trouble and it's really not hard to figure out why.

The writings of Niccolo Macchiavelli, to cite a peculiar starting point, were a response and reaction to the perpetual state of war Italian city-states were in during the Renaissance were mired in. Macchiavellian politics, while a standard in Italy, was really practiced by all nations and peoples.

France has always thumped its chest and waxed theory on everything possible in pompous grandeur. From their huge and skilled civil service to their large diplomatic corps. At times, their artistic ego sometimes got the better of them.

Not so long ago, I witnessed one one of Chirac's close political colleagues, while visiting Quebec, berate an anglophone journalist for not speaking French. He belittled, before the media, this person for not speaking the language of 'intellectualism and high culture'. Of course, one can interpret this action as being, ironically, rather unsophisticated.

France - like England and Spain - consolidated under the monarchy system centuries before Italy or Germany for that matter. Thus, it was in a much better position to employ Macchiavelli's theories of power into practical use. Indeed, France became a European, and later, world power early on in its existence. From Martel to Charlemagne to a long succession of Monarchs and Generals, France was always in the middle of European and world affairs.

These days, under its present leader Jacques Chirac, France maintains the belief that they are still relevant. They employ an 18th century mentality in current affairs - A world structure that is changing before their eyes. While they were a key player in the design of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 - a treaty that ushered a new world order - they find themselves, largely due to their own choice, on the outside looking in as the United States and Great Britain (present during the Treaty) redesign geopolitical rules.

When examining the quarrelsome French in the 20th century, one can't help but wonder about its odd and what can be perceived as hypocritical behaviour. While American contradictions can be attributed to a nation that has yet to plan a sound foreign policy conducive to its sensibilities, France's actions seem to be deliberate in that it seeks to undermine American power to enhance its own image. This may turn out to not only be damaging to France but a dangerous game to play period.

Nowhere is this more stark than with its alliance with not just Arab states and leaders but with terrorist organizations and dictators. France, once upon a time, was an ally of Israel but soon shifted alliance under Charles de Gaulle in an effort to increase visibility in an oil soaked region dominated by a demographically dominant Arab population. It was a pure Macchiavellian power play. However, one must wonder if this was a deal with the devil.

After 40 years of such tactical foreign policy balancing, there is no evidence that Chirac's repugnant cozying up with Arafat, Hezbollaz and Saddam Hussein has had any positive affect. In fact, the opposite seems to be happening. French military personnel and civilians have all been targeted by terrorist throughout the last three decades. France's own Muslim population is growing and is expected to reach 25% of the population as soon as 2025. True, the Arab world looks at France in a better light than the U.S.

However, many of France's Muslims who were born in France are sympathetic to Osama Bin Laden and France has not been immune to the trivial chants of 'death to France' on its own soil. Yet, French intellectual circles - and not just in France but across Europe - continue to use socialist and other questionable left-wing rhetoric as a sign of vibrant intellectualism.

What bed have they made? Possibly, if we agree with these points, a messy one. While it may be too soon to tell, a pattern can be noted. France's political machinations may ultimately nip them in the arse. Needless to say, there posturing has led to the rise of anti-semitism - pogroms are nothing new in Europe dating back centuries- and it has not been restricted to the streets but has found itself creeping into the halls of power. Recently, a French ambassador to the UK was quoted as saying about Israel "...that shitty little country..."

It is remarkably ironic how a democracy with a questionable 20th century track record would eschew an imperfect democracy like Israel in a sea of irrational thought.

France are the purveyors of Macchiavellian thought in Occidental politics. They do what they have to do to remain on top. In this light, they are like any kingdom or nation in world history. However, in this instance, France is not even on top and this makes it all the more disturbing not only for world affairs but France itself.

The French should concern themselves less with the diet of the world and the alleged evils of the United States and more with their own pending social and economic demise. It's time to start talking about France for all the right reasons.

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