Resist means have failed. This is why " the French spirit of resistance ", in which Emmanuel Macron was referring to the occasion of the commemoration of the battle of Montcornet (defeated !), counter-offensive carried out on the 17th of may 1940 by the colonel de Gaulle, is a formula that is appropriate for a leader faced with failures.
If it was necessary to "resist" during the Second world War, it is because of the errors had been committed. Similarly, the resistance of the French during the crisis of the sars coronavirus is the consequence of a negligence of the State. If there had been enough beds, masks, tests, citizens would not have been put to work, and it would have been the proof of a good command. In short, the resistance is the convulsion of a population abandoned by those whose function it is to protect it. There was a time when France did not need to attend to the collapse of his power to triumph.
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You have given orders ? And after ? It is necessary to see if it is running !
In may 1921, the commandant Charles Bugnet became an officer of the order of marshal Foch, who was appointed to the head of the military committee, allied, whose mission is to execute the clauses of the military of the treaty of Versailles. During his eight years of service on the winner of the First world War, Bugnet has collected his words, confidences, anecdotes in a fascinating book of memories : listening to marshal Foch. Rigorous, disciplined, methodical, Foch was, but, after all, what could be more normal for a military ? Most striking are the qualities to which it gives importance, which do not have interest, according to him, are interconnected in a closed circuit. Their combination does not ensure victory, it conditions it.
silence is the condition of the action ; the control, of the execution ; the will, of the victory. Results, facts : there. Similarly, the power to give orders is not the guarantee of success : "It is not enough to have a goal, a plan and a method, it is necessary to continue the application with tenacity... You have given orders ? And after ? It is necessary to see if it is running. [...] When there is no result, nothing is done. "If these ideas seem evident today, they were not so prevalent in a staff where the claim had exceeded the jurisdiction. Foch is a generation of officers traumatized by the defeat against Prussia. He attended the July 28, 1870, to taking command of Napoleon III at Metz, has been a witness of the excess of confidence of the general convinced that it was enough to be led by a Bonaparte to become Murat, found the decadence of an army when good officers were initially famous for being a "good player of billiards" : "The Second Empire, it was brilliant ! [...] The army of the Empire, beautiful men, beautiful speakers, of elegance, of the foam. [...] Nobody was in command. The heads were never there ! [...] They were not beasts, intelligent even. [...] But it is not enough to reach the hock and scroll. "
I said to myself : "Let Foch ! At least we'll die with the rifle in hand ! It is the fool who led us out of there !"
And if Foch had been, in fact, the culmination of the military prowess of France, the threshold beyond which the decline was inevitable ? And there was the ambition, genius and courage such as economic cycles, where growth precedes the crash ? Weygand knew his Foch by heart, knew how to repeat the lessons of the master, and even apply them ; the name at the head of the French army was in effect the choice more reasonable. It was forgotten that Foch, the prince of the offensive, was, in his time, not the reasonable choice. Clemenceau does not say something else : "I said to myself : "Let Foch ! At least we'll die with the rifle in hand ! I left this sensible man, full of reason that was Pétain ; I have adopted this crazy that was Foch. It is the fool who led us out of there ! "
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During and after the containment, the president of the Republic and its government, talk about, justify it, spend a energy senseless to win in talking about a battle that they have been unable to win in the acts. As it is understandable : the silence, the intimacy and dignity are the preserve of individuals whose exploits take the place of speech. And Foch concludes, " A general beat is a general disqualified. "
Charles Bugnet, listening to marshal Foch, Paris, Grasset, Les Cahiers rouges, 2017. First published in 1929.
*Arthur Chevallier is the publisher in the Past compounds. His last essay, "Napoleon without napoleon Bonaparte" (editions du Cerf), is published in January 2019. The 12 September is out "The Taste of Napoleon" (editions Le Petit Mercure), a collection of texts on the Emperor.