Thursday, July 08, 2004

France Loves Moore Because Moore Says Americans are Stupid

The French love Michael Moore because he tells them what they have always felt about Americans: Americans are stupid and have no culture. The French themselves believe that they should be the center of the world's attention.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is, of course, a big hit in France. Some French commentators, however, like Bernard-Henri Levy, have exercised some judgment and pointed out the film's obvious flaws.

Neither did Moore have a fan in France's celebrity philosopher, Bernard-Henri Lévy: "When Michael Moore describes Iraq, before the American intervention, as a sort of oasis of peace and happiness, where people flew kites ... there wasn't only that," Lévy told RTL radio. "Saddam Hussein was also a horrible dictator. And that is not in Michael Moore's film." Lévy opposed the American intervention in Iraq and is not a supporter of Bush.

Belmont Club steps back and offers us the long view.

When Napoleon reconnoitered the Duke of Wellington's position at Waterloo on June 18, 1815 he remarked to his Marshals that beating the English would be no more serious an affair than "eating breakfast". It was the Emperor's habit to disparage the enemy in front of his men, but inwardly his heart misgave him. Napoleon knew that if Wellington's ally Field Marshal Blucher could concentrate his additional forces on Wellington's left before the close of day that "France was lost". There remained but one chance: to rout Wellington before Blucher arrived. He ordered D'Erlon's corps forward at the pas de charge in one last desperate throw of the dice.

In 2004, French audiences flocking to Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11 to laugh at the stupidity and weakness of their rivals are subconciously participating in a gambit of equal desperation: the notion that if George Bush's reelection can be prevented by a John Kerry victory, that the liberal project which had been thrown off the rails by the September 11 attacks can somehow be set in motion again and the world restored to its proper course. Absent is the Napoleonic self-awareness of the man concious of impending tragedy yet daring it nonetheless.


. . .

The real strategic problem of the Jihadis is that their power is so one-dimensional. They have the ability to slit throats, burn with acid, stone or destroy with explosives but none whatsoever to produce abundant food, medicine or clothing. One might join the Jihad to act out one's hate or satisfy a sense of adventure, but not to pay the rent. Analogously, the strategic problem of Europe is that it is in monotonic decline. It is shrinking in population and aging; growing at a slower rate than America and much slower than either China or India. Yet both are proud and ancient visions who imagine that they can reverse their fortunes with a few telling blows. Yet just as Osama Bin Laden discovered that destroying the World Trade Center only causes a new and taller one to be built, in addition to the loss of Afghanistan and Iraq to the Jihadi cause, the French may discover that not even the election of John Kerry -- which is by no means foregone -- will alter the underlying tale. Only by changing themselves -- and not by watching Michael Moore -- can they recover their dynamism and become competitive again.



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