France Stands at Crossroads, as Members of Military Demand Action


In 1971, first-time novelist Frederick Forsyth, a former RAF pilot, journalist, and war correspondent, published “The Day of the Jackal,” a grippingly realistic thriller about an anonymous hired assassin known only as the Jackal, who very nearly assassinates French president Charles de Gaulle in revenge for his abandonment of France’s long-time colony of Algeria in 1962. Outraged at what they saw as a national betrayal, a disaffected section of the French army, which had failed to unhorse de Gaulle in a coup attempt the year before, continued to make attempts on de Gaulle’s life, only to see each one fail.

The novel, a worldwide bestseller, was unique in several respects. For one thing, it tracked as closely as possible to actual history in order to make the tale believable. For another, it kept the reader in suspense even though everybody knew the ending before starting the book: De Gaulle died of natural causes at home in 1970.

For a third, it had you rooting for the nominal bad guy—the amoral, inventive and coolly expert Jackal—against one of the major figures of the 20th century. When, at the climax, the Jackal is taken down by the unflappable, plodding commissioner Lebel, you feel a moment of sadness for all that hard work, lost to chance.

Cut to France today, where last week some 20 retired French generals and other officers and enlisted men (some of them still serving) penned a startling open letter, directly addressed to president Emmanuel Macron, his government, and the rest of the nation, warning of the possibility—no, the necessity—of a military coup if the country doesn’t get a grip on its restive Muslim “hordes” in the ghettos called “banlieues,” and on the manufactured leftist social unrest that calls itself “anti-racism.”

The letter, published in the conservative magazine Valeurs Actuelles, came on the 60th anniversary of the abortive 1961 putsch.

“The hour is late, France is in peril, threatened by several mortal dangers,” the letter begins. “Though retired, we remain soldiers of France, and cannot, under the present circumstances, remain indifferent to the fate of our beautiful country … The peril rises, violence increases every day. Who could have predicted, ten years ago, that a teacher could one day have his head cut off as he left his middle school?

“As servants of the Nation, who have always been ready to pay the ultimate price for our service, we cannot remain passive spectators of such actions. Therefore, the leaders of our country must absolutely find the courage required to eradicate those dangers.”

Strong stuff. But do not dismiss it as mere Gallic braggadocio. Polls suggest widespread approval of the letter, and nearly half the population would support the military should it act in the interests of France.

Some 73 percent of respondents actively fear the country is coming apart thanks to immigration, while a whopping 86 percent agreed that there are now parts of France where French law no longer rules.

The Macron government has already begun to take action against at least 18 of the soldiers now on active duty who signed the letter—but that’s unlikely to deter the French patriots ready to intervene “in a perilous mission of protection of our civilizational values.”

Coups are, after all, nothing new to the French. The Jacobins and others overthrew the monarchy during the French Revolution; Napoleon dispatched the revolutionaries while building an empire that shook the peace of Europe. Heck, in 1851, the French president, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (the Little Corporal’s nephew), overthrew his own government and established the Second Empire with himself as Emperor Napoleon III.

He, in turn, was overthrown after the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, after which the Third French Republic was proclaimed. It was followed in turn by the Fourth Republic after World War II, and the Fifth Republic in 1958, which under De Gaulle overthrew its predecessor and changed the form of government to one headed both by a strong president (Macron) and a prime minister (Jean Castex).

To top it off, the early medieval French national epic, the Song of Roland, celebrates the last stand of a knight called Roland at the Roncevaux Pass against Muslim armies from Spain, which are personally routed after the death of Roland and his men by Charlemagne himself, who slays the Muslim commander Baligant on the field of battle. When the French finally rouse themselves to the defense of their civilization, they can be among the most ferocious peoples of Europe.

Macon’s likely opponent in the April 2022 elections, Marine le Pen, hailed the letter and called upon the signers to “join us in taking part in the coming battle, which is the battle of France.” To bolster her appeal, Le Pen has been shedding some of her far-right associations and expanding her base of support to include women and gays, along with Euroskeptics and anti-immigrationists who are her natural allies.

For his part, Macron has been more vocal in defending French customs and traditions against Islamic incursion lately, but he’s badly underwater in the polls with a 38 percent approval rating, thanks to his repressive treatment of the working-class protesters called the Gilets Jaunes (yellow vests), who have been demonstrating and striking against his economic and, latterly, COVID-19 policies for nearly three years.

Whoever ultimately wins, it’s clear France—which together with Germany forms the heart of the European Union—is at a crossroads. During the Revolution, the French pillaged churches and murdered the Catholic clergy, creating a secular state. But large-scale Muslim immigration (from Algeria, among other places in the Islamic ummah) is testing that policy, known as “laïcité,” as Islam rushes into the spiritual vacuum that has followed the death of Christianity, not just in France but across Europe.

The generals, therefore, are in reality defending “laïcité,” although the international Left naturally depicts their stance as “racism,” further muddying the waters and bringing one of the oldest nations in Europe ever closer to either a coup or a civil war.

We Americans may think the Europeans have become too effete and demoralized to stand up for themselves any longer (we should talk!)… but then again, that’s what everybody thought about the Germans in 1933.

This time, the Jackal may not miss.

Michael Walsh is the editor of and the author of “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace” and “The Fiery Angel,” both published by Encounter Books. His latest book, “Last Stands,” a cultural study of military history from the Greeks to the Korean War, was recently published.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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Michael Walsh
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