Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Napoleon Complex

Although it is not on line (you must subscribe), allow me to bring to your attention an article in the current issue of The New Republic (April 14). It is by David A. Bell, and is entitled, "The Napoleon Complex." It is an article on France’s Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin. More specifically it is an examination of his latest book, a six-hundred-pager, on Napoleon, The Hundred Days, or the Spirit of Sacrifice. Bell makes crystal clear that de Villepin--no matter how he poses as a defender of reason, prudence, and international law--is "a man lacking firm political principles, romantically besotted with raw political power, and ready to overlook misdeeds committed in its name--but only when the power in question is French."

De Villepin says that Napoleon was nothing less than "the conjunction of a man and a nation...through his destiny, everyone can feel the breath of the exceptional, preserve hope in a better future, and maintain a part of that French dream which blends into the idea we have of ourselves." Never mind that that French superman ultimately lost, because de Villepin says that it was "a defeat which gleams with the aura of victory." Nihilism is not standing at the French door, it is in the le salle de sejour or, if you like, le sejour des dieux.

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