Friday, May 18, 2007

The Fall of France - post II

The reasons for the defeat are still being outlined in the first part of the book but they are mounting up with a combination of failed diplomacy, poor military and political judgement and a superior opposition.

There is an interesting piece in The Economist today in the Charlemagne column that refers to a comment made by Javier Solana, The European Union’s main foreign policy man who says that when the American’s say something is “history” they usually mean it is no longer relevant whereas Europeans mean the opposite. It is also because of that inability to bury hatchets of the past that the French stumbled into the Second World War with almost no firm allies.

Bullet points between pages 42 – 100

* The French were unable to hold the Germans as they sped through Belgium and when they did have a chance to bomb them or counter attack they missed it because of bad intelligence or pigheaded leadership

* Once in France the Germans found little resistance and were able to move quickly towards the coast and almost cut off the British expeditionary force and the French troops fighting alongside them

* Dunkirk managed to snatch some sort of result from the jaws of defeat but the French felt betrayed by their British allies but Jackson then takes a step back and asks the question about why the French had so few allies

* Attempts to develop links with Poland, Czechoslovakia were not enough to off set the lack of a big partner and links with Russia failed to materialise in anything and all the time the British strung them along

* It was partly because of the British disapproval of the Italian invasion of Abyssinia that the French let that relationship go and they signed up for sanctions against the Italians and lost a potential ally

* On top of that there were various personalities at play with the British being wound up by the French leadership and vice versa leading to mistrust just when unity and clear thinking was needed

More to come…

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