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Washington and France

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“Bonaparte has differed with his generals here; and he did want – and if I understand his meaning, does want, and will strive to be, the Washington of France.” – Admiral Lord Nelson, describing then General Napoleon Bonaparte’s ambitions, as revealed in intercepted letters, August, 1798

Ah, Napoleon. If only he had succeeded in being the Washington of France, then perhaps “old Europe”, would be standing with us today. But, alas, despite their many similarities, Napoleon Bonaparte was no George Washington. Both were charismatic leaders of men. Both were generals who led rag-tag armies to victories against greater forces. Both fought for infant republics and the rights of man against the excesses of monarchy. Both became the supreme leader of their respective nations. But there the similarities end.

When the war ended, a grateful nation handed yet more power to Washington. Bonaparte seized power in a coup. Rather than abuse his power, Washington used it to nurture the ideals for which he and the country had fought so hard, and to insure that those same ideals became entrenched in the nation’s government . Bonaparte used his power to garner greater glory for himself and for France by conquering his neighbors. Washington’s legacy is a nation that two hundred years later still defends the rights of men everywhere. Napoleon’s legacy was a Europe torn by war. A Europe that continued to fight the battles left by that legacy well into the twentieth century. A Europe that in some ways is still playing the same old political power games of that legacy. And a Europe that still can’t tell the difference between Napoleon and Washington.

Little wonder then, that “old Europe” views our country and the power we’re now wielding with suspicion, though you would think that over two hundred years of example would be enough to reassure them that we are not a nation of Napoleons. But, it’s human nature to project our own faults on others. So, when old Europe sees us mobilizing to topple a tyrant, they think “imperial ambitions,” not “liberation.” They believe that all powerful leaders are cut from the same cloth as Bonaparte. Poor old Europe. They’ve never known a Washington. Fortunate America. We’ve never known a Napoleon.

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  • http://www.tekwh0re.net Ms. Tek

    “Bonaparte seized power in a coup. Rather than abuse his power, Washington used it to nurture the ideals for which he and the country had fought so hard, and to insure that those same ideals became entrenched in the nation’s government . Bonaparte used his power to garner greater glory for himself and for France by conquering his neighbors. ”

    Hmmmm… Are you SURE that history doesn’t repeat itself?

    Becoming a leader because of shady circumstances, using power for greater glory by conquering neighbors?

    Nope, can’t see where that might be going on today…

    *walks away whistling*

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Poor, poor, deluded Old Europe.

    They have no experience with the doctrine of preventive war. None at all.

    They don’t understand how utterly moral it is.

    They think somehow it could lead to bad things.

    Poor, poor, deluded Old Europe.

  • http://carthaginianpeace.blogspot.com NC

    Yeah, poor poor Old Europe. No experience with preventive wars. Lots of experience with wars of conquest and annihilation, though. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of experience there.

    If only Washington were alive today, he would explain to us how immoral preventive war is. For it is far, far more moral to ignore our enemies’ attempts to get hold of atomic weapons and allow them to launch a first strike from which we couldn’t recover than to act first to prevent them from doing so.

    In any event, thank God we and Old Europe didn’t act preemptively against Germany in the late 1930s! Can you imagine what Europe would be like today with all those Jews running around?

  • Don

    Atomic weapons? One minor problem. They didn’t have them, they didn’t have the technology to develop them, and they didn’t have the technology to deliver them (all of which N. Korea has). The reason N. Korea hasn’t used them is the same reason we had nothing to fear from Iraq having them. When you lob one (they had no chance of building a compact one – not in Husseein’s lifetime) you give the target a return address. Terrorist minions commit suicide. You’ll notice that Bin Lauden hasn’t blown himself up. Hussein would send others to commit suicide, he won’t do it himself.

    This could have been done without war. This is a war of choice, against a country which doesn’t, and can’t threaten us. This war is a Bush-league failure.

  • Don

    Atomic weapons? One minor problem. They didn’t have them, they didn’t have the technology to develop them, and they didn’t have the technology to deliver them (all of which N. Korea has). The reason N. Korea hasn’t used them is the same reason we had nothing to fear from Iraq having them. When you lob one (they had no chance of building a compact one – not in Husseein’s lifetime) you give the target a return address. Terrorist minions commit suicide. You’ll notice that Bin Lauden hasn’t blown himself up. Hussein would send others to commit suicide, he won’t do it himself.

    Also, the terrorist who blew up the Trade Center were armed with (gasp) box cutters! I don’t think that they got them from Hussein.

    This could have been done without war. This is a war of choice, against a country which doesn’t, and can’t threaten us. This war is a Bush-league failure.