vendredi 23 avril 2010

L'Angleterre et la guerre

Nous avons souvent écrit dans ces colonnes qu'un des grands perdants de la Seconde Guerre mondiale était le Royaume Uni mais à la différence de la France, de l'Allemagne ou de l'Italie, il ne le savait pas.

Voici quelques jours, la presse de caniveau britannique a ressorti de la naphtaline des déclarations du chef libéral Nick Clegg rappelant que cette illusion de grandeur avait coûté cher au Royaume Uni.

Seul contre tous, le journaliste conservateur (eurosceptique et francophobe) Ed West est venu au secours de Nick Clegg dans son blog du Telegraph.

I hate to say it, but Nick Clegg is right about the War

Horrified though I am at the prospect of seeing a Lib-Lab government in power – I’d threaten to emigrate but that would probably only make people want to vote for them more – I can’t see what exactly Nick Clegg has done wrong here.

In an article written in 2002 Nick Clegg described an incident where schoolboy friends of his, on an exchange visit to Germany, shouted at bemused Bavarians that “we own your country, we won the war”.

He then writes: “All nations have a cross to bear, and none more so than Germany with its memories of Nazism. But the British cross is more insidious still. A misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off.”

Well, he’s right, isn’t he? Almost nothing makes my heart sink more than the sight of English morons taunting the Germans about the war with Nazi salutes and lame Gestapo accents and even shouts of “two world wars, one world cup”. Britain lost about 1 per cent of its population during the Second World War – Germany almost 10 per cent. Another 12 million Germans were ethnically cleansed from their homeland, and Germany’s cities were totally flattened. And we call them humourless for not joining in and having a right old laugh about it all – Ha! Ha! Dresden, we got you there, Fritz!

But mocking someone about a conflict in which their grandfathers were probably killed and grandmothers raped is not only tasteless, it’s embarrassing.

England certainly does have an unhealthy obsession with the Second World World War, which in turn warps our attitude to Germany, which is why relatively so few English people visit the country (which is a shame. We visited Bavaria and the Black Forest in 2008 and couldn’t recommend it more – great weather, great beer, great people, much nicer than the French).
The English World War Two complex exists no doubt because we started that war as a great power and ended it a mediocre one, and have not recovered since, with the last 65 years being a series of humiliations, from Suez to Basra and that San Marino goal.

But the humiliation has been most keenly felt by the British industrial working class, whose sources of national identity began to provoke contempt just as their communities were being destroyed by town planners (who managed to do far more lasting damage than Goering) and their industrial strength sapped.

And these “delusions of grandeur” Clegg refers to are in part a reaction to the attitude of the establishment to which Clegg belongs – made up of people who essentially don’t believe in nations at all, and who regard patriotism to a country for its own sake, rather than for the progressive attitudes they pretend it embodies, as some weird throwback, like religion. It is this liberal-Left establishment that is the hardest “cross” for the British to bear.

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