The return of France

If the socialist candidate wins the election in France next week, as The Washington Post’s David Ignatius says he is likely to do, it will shift the paradigm of Europe. It will change everything. Specifically, it could shift leadership in Europe from Germany to France. Or more likely, it could begin a power contention between France and Germany; a struggle for the soul of Europe. Because now that France has challenged austerity it brings respect, acceptance and leadership to the countries that have in the recent brief history complained. That would be Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, which France can begin to assert European leadership to. France brings status and a legitimate program of opposition to these countries by the repudiation of Sarko and the election of Socialist leader Francois Hollande, not only to France but to these other countries. While Germany would retain leadership of others. Until now, a few of us Euro deniers referred to the EU as Greater Germany. Now two realms emerge: Greater Germany and Greater France.

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What happens next in France will be more important than the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which might be considered the end of the last century. What happens next week in France might be considered the beginning of the next century. It will redefine Europe again not as one globalist cloud, a side venue of what Scott Nearing, my one-time neighbor here in the hills, called the Power Principle, and create a binary Euro-state between France and Germany. It is one that always seemed to be there underneath — a Euro yin and yang — even before Napoleon and Bismarck. There is a kind of creepy symmetry to it, given the history of our times, given the history of Europe; the history of all things which tend to divide in two.
 
One school of thought among historians has it that history is all about China, and when the noise ends and the dust settles China returns and rises again. There is another on our side of the world that it is all about France. That is maybe why Ernest Hemingway, machine gun in hand, felt the necessity to liberate the Ritz bar in Paris on Aug. 25, 1944. Because Hemingway and America could not live with Germans in charge. If Europe divides again (and it will) between France and Germany, America will have to decide again, in time, who will we go forward with and who will we leave behind.


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