Roggeveen calls this “Grunstein bait.” Okay, I’ll bite. But what’s really Grunstein bait is the fighter jet flyovers for the Bastille Day parade that got me scurrying down to the Seine for an unobstructed view. I was going to write that besides the sweet and low-flying formations of Rafales and Mirages, the parade itself usually doesn’t feature heavy arms, just armored personnel carriers and some cannons and the like. But then I found a photo of a formation of Leclerc tanks from the 2007 parade. (Couldn’t tell if they were camouflaged or just covered in rust and duct tape.)
There was a formation of fire trucks in this year’s edition, though, meaning a very strong civil component. And it’s almost unheard of these days to see a former general appointed as ambassador (Eikenberry) or secretary of state (Powell), for instance. So that argues in France’s favor on the Roggeveen Scale of Social Progress.
On the other hand, the birth of the Fifth Republic was essentially a coup d’état to install Charles de Gaulle (referred to always as “le Général,” and not “le Président”). Historically, there’s also the diminutive Bonaparte and ignominious Pétain. Which suggests a certain urge to power among the military leadership.
I think I’m going to have to refer to the expert on this, though. This is now officially Goldhammer bait.
Update: Goldhammer bites.