21 June 2015

C'est un fosse que sera franchi lorsqu'on aura l'audace de le tenter. (Just a ditch to be crossed when someone has the nerve to try it.)   Bonaparte 1803
Thursday saw the banner headline in Le Monde, aimed at the UK: 'Just as in 1815, Brexit is your Waterloo.' I agree. It's been a week of commemorations. Not just Waterloo (200 years) but also 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta. Both are significant water(!)sheds historically, as is this week's anniversary of de Gaulle's 1940 speech in London. Should the UK have held commemorations of Waterloo at all?  Until all nations eliminate glorying in past battles against current allies, encouraging nationalism, no progress towards world peace will ever be achieved. Have we learned nothing at all from history?  Of course, I understand only too well that sometimes evil dictators like Hitler have to be stopped at any cost. (If we hadn't stopped him, I wouldn't be writing this piece now!) But, past land-grab battles - especially against current allies - are best left to history and the different mindsets back then. What should be commemorated are anniversaries like last month's 106th birthday of Sir Nicholas Winton, who organised the rescue of 669 Czech children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. His knighthood was one of the very few I actually agree with and which was richly deserved. Happy birthday Sir Nicholas!

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