The Napoleon Complex

Bell, David A.
April 2003
New Republic;4/14/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 14, p27
What would Dominique de Villepin make of the following scenario? The most powerful country in the world, and the self-proclaimed standard-bearer of the West, makes an unprovoked, overwhelming attack on a large Muslim state and occupies it. The leader of the attack claims to be acting preventively, and therefore, ultimately, in self-defense. He also claims to be bringing Western values, and a new era, to the Middle East. But his path is not entirely smooth: in world opinion he is pilloried for atrocities against innocent Muslims. The foreign minister of France found time in 2001 to publish a six-hundred-page book on Napoleon, titled "Les Cent-Jours, Ou l' esprit de sacrifice," or "The Hundred Days, or the Spirit of Sacrifice." De Villepin may pose in the United Nations as the great defender of reason, prudence, and international law against an arrogant, foolhardy, and unreasonable America. Like Napoleon himself, Dominique Galouzeau de Villepin--by training an elite civil servant and career diplomat--is a quite prolific author. Scarcely fifteen months after publishing "The Hundred Days," he hit the stands again with a book-length meditation on French history entitled Le cri de la gargouille, or The Gargoyle's Cry.


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