On November 11, at the World War I Armistice Day centennial observance, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism: Nationalism is treason.” He went on to say that “If we think our interests may only come first and we don’t care for others, it is treason of our values, a betrayal of all moral values”. He lamented that a renewed spirit of nationalism, brought on by the harsh terms imposed on Germany after World War I, led to World War II.
This globalist view of the world is misguided. Rising nationalism in Germany between the world wars was not the reason for World War II. Nationalism was always strong in Germany, a common characteristic of the German people at that time. However, one of the most important reasons for World War II was the way World War I ended. Germany asked for and was granted an armistice after being starved by the Allied blockade and due to general war weariness of its population. At the time of the armistice, Germany had conquered one of the Allies, Russia on the Eastern front, and was still occupying part of France on the Western front after almost winning the war with a last push towards Paris a few months earlier.
Germany expected to negotiate a fair treaty with the Allies after the armistice as up to that time it had fared somewhat better than the Allies in the war. Instead, led by the French and British, Germany was presented with an ultimatum, the Versailles Treaty, which called for very harsh terms. Representatives from Germany had been excluded from the peace conference, with the Allies dictating the terms, although arguably Germany was in almost as good a position at war’s end as the Allies and could have expected to at least to go back to a position similar to the start of the war. Instead, Germany was required to forfeit a great deal of territory and pay impossibly heavy reparations. Even worse, the infamous Article 231 forced Germany to accept sole blame for the war even though each side had some responsibility for its start. The German people were deeply frustrated and disillusioned by the treaty. It was a bitter pill for them to swallow but they had to as they had already backed down from a war footing and Communist revolutions were beginning in their country. The Treaty led directly to the rise of Hitler in subsequent years and World War II.
Nationalism did not start World War II. Hitler wanted to conquer all of Europe and beyond to bring all countries under Nazi control. Nationalism has nothing to do with attacking and subjugating other countries. Indeed, it is about protecting a country’s culture and interests from the control or influence of other countries and in general putting its interests first. It is a protectionist rather than an expansionist view.
France and the Allies bear some responsibility for World War II due to its greed and dishonest dealings with Germany after World War I and this is widely recognized today. However, most of the responsibility rests with Germany itself which chose to follow Hitler and, even after peaceably winning back most of the territory taken from it in World War II through negotiation, subsequently went on to invade other countries to conquer and impose their Nazi government on them.
President Macron’s assertion that nationalism is treason is foolish on its face. While it is true we should always treat other countries fairly and justly, it is natural for a country to want to protect its interests first. Being nationalistic does not mean a country cannot be a good neighbor, care about other countries and help them whenever needed, and certainly America has been a great help to the world over the years. Nationalism has nothing to do with treason or betrayal. An example of treason/betrayal is France surrendering to Germany prematurely during World War II when it still had a significant army and resources to continue the war and then setting up the Vichy French government that cooperated with the Nazis including sending Jews to their death. Oh, that France could have been more nationalistic rather than cooperationist then.
God separated us into different Peoples at the Tower of Babel for good reason. We would create too much mischief united. With separate nations, each looking to its own interests as well as being considerate of its fellow countries, we can have an America to bail out a France from a Nazi conqueror.
Categories: Current Affairs