Decline as destiny

Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard offers this lengthy but worthwhile piece on one of my favorite subjects, the decline of France. Caldwell notes that, on the day the U.S. launched its attack on Saddam Hussein, president Chirac’s approval rating was 74 percent. Today it is at 47 percent and falling. This reflects the reality that, while Chirac’s government has pursued “the exhilarating task of taming (if only oratorically) American military hubris,” France has continued its “undeniable decline, even in the context of a Europe that is itself decadent.”
That phrase comes from Nicolas Baverez, author of the hot book “La France qui tombe” (“France Falling”), which I discussed briefly in this blog called “the sick man of Europe”. My favorite part of Caldwell’s piece is his report on the reaction of French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin to Baverez’s critique. Caldwell tells us that the great poseur is said to have responded that “France is living out ‘not decline but destiny’ (pas le declin, le destin, the original Jesse Jackson-esqe French).” In this case, it seems that the two are one-and-the-same.


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