Chapman’s News & Ideas World War I Without Americans

In Paris, and here is the “Exposition on the Front”, the story of the Great War–World War I–at Les Invalides, in the same complex that houses Napoleon’s tomb.

There’s a problem: there is almost no mention of the American role in bringing the war to an end. That is despite hundreds of photos, posters, memorabilia, etc. on the French, the British, the Italians and the Germans, the Austrians, etc. The briefest of mentions in a slide show refers to American “contingents” that arrived in 19l8. The implication is that they were incidental to the outcome.

The French suffered terribly–and most–in the First World War. But their sacrifice was not made alone.

If this were DeGaulle’s day the exhibit’s omission would be considered an intentional slight. But those days are surely over.

French President Francois Hollande, meanwhile, is at a disapproval rate of 74 percent, according to a survey reported on Monday, while 86 percent do not want him to seek another term as Prime Minister. If his government–which staged the exhibit on the Great War, could be so cavalier about a key ally, maybe the incompetence factor applies to leadership in France these days.