By Eric Margolis
July 15, 2017
Lew Rockwell.com

As a former soldier and war correspondent, I abhor demonstrations of flag-waving, militarism and nationalism. That great American, Benjamin Franklin, put it perfectly: ‘no good war, no bad peace.’

But I must admit that my heart does beat faster when I hear the rousing strains of France’s glorious national anthem, ‘La Marseillaise.’ One must be almost dead not to respond to the hymn, first known in 1775 as ‘the war song of the army of the Rhine’ and then the marching song of volunteers from Marseille.

A few years ago, I was a guest of France’s government on the reviewing stand of the annual 14 July Bastille Day military parade. Watching the glittering Garde républicaine cavalry, the tough Alpine troops in their huge berets known as “tartes,” and, of course, the grim Foreign Legion march down the Champs Élysées was thrilling.

US President Thomas Jefferson put it best: ‘Every man has two homelands: his own, and France.’

Both Franklin and Jefferson spent time in Paris as ambassadors and helped negotiate France’s decisive military intervention that saved the American Revolution. French troops under the Marquis de Lafayette and a fleet under Admiral Rochambeau and Count de Grasse played the key role in defeating British forces. War at the Top of the … Eric Margolis, Eric S…. Best Price: $0.99 Buy New $6.30

Ironically, France was bankrupted by this military effort which also contributed to the French Revolution against King Louis XVI.

One hopes US President Donald Trump reflected on these facts when he was French President Emmanuel Macron’s guest of honor at Bastille Day. He was hopefully reminded by aides of American Gen. ‘Blackjack’ Pershing’s memorable statement upon landing with US troops to join France in World War One, ‘Lafayette, we are here!’

Two hundred US troops led the great parade down the Champs Élysées, headed by a contingent from the venerable 1st US Infantry Division, known as ‘the Big Red One’ and other American units. Their march marked the 100th anniversary of the US landing in France. President Trump, who managed to avoid military service due to a small foot problem, stood and saluted the American troops.

The US and France owe much to one another and should regularly recall their mutual debt.

Particularly so for all those uninformed Republicans who keep calling the French cowards and sissies. France lost more than 1.5 million dead in World War I. Churchill observed, ‘you will never know war until you fight Germans.’

But the key question remains, was US intervention in World War I a catastrophic mistake? By 1917, France, Britain, Russia and their allies were militarily exhausted. So was Germany and its allies Turkey, Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary. The war had become a giant siege in which millions had died for nothing in history’s most barbarous war.

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