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On Iraq, Bush Should Follow Charles de Gaulle's "l'heroisme de l'abandon"

As we all know, President George Bush has recently been reading the French existentialist Albert Camus. But there is another French figure far from the Left Bank cafes more relevant for this president to pay attention to now: Charles de Gaulle.

In his new book Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories From History and the Arts, Clive James recounts Raymond Aron praising de Gaulle's courage and vision. Aron extolled de Gaulle for "l'heroisme de l'abandon," or "the bravery to renounce" his commitment to keep fighting against Algerian independence when he came to see that undermined the interests and prestige of France.

A lot was a stake. De Gaulle marshalled his idea of "grandeur" and a "certain idea of France" against his own right wing which consisted not of the mere barbed pundits on Fox TV that Bush faces, but armed rebels and roaming assassins.

As a great statesman, de Gaulle understood that staying the course when there was no exit was foolish weakness. As a military man, he knew it sometimes required more bravery to change course. Bush ought to finally earn his righteous swagger by adding this phrase - l'heroisme de l'abandon -- to his lexicon.