Putin & the Lilliputians at Normandy: Doing a Grave Disservice to Those Who Performed Heroic Service
Today was the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Sadly, this solemn occasion was overshadowed by the grotesque attendance of Vladimir Putin. Given the Putin-driven crisis in Ukraine, and the friction between western nations and Russia (including in international waters of the Black Sea and off Japan, where Russian aircraft buzzed an American ship and aircraft, respectively), it was inevitable that the tensions between Putin and the western heads of government and state would dominate the event and its coverage, and intrude on commemorations that should have been focused laser-like on the few remaining veterans in attendance, and those who are no longer with us, some not having been with us since 6 June, 1944.
June 6 should not be about Putin. It should not be about the other Lilliputians representing their nations either: Hollande, Cameron, Obama, Merkel or Harper (the latter two arguably the best of the lot, but that is saying very, very little). It should not be about current crises. It should be about those who stormed the beaches or jumped into flooded fields in the dark or piloted landing craft pitching wildly in the heavy surf or flew cover over the vast armada. Period. To degrade this with the trivialities of who sat how far from whom and who ate dinner with whom and how so-and-so looked at such-and-such is beyond appalling.
Primary responsibility for this travesty rests with the littlest Lillliputian: Hollande. He invited Putin, and did everything to make him welcome. Moreover, he also had the temerity to whine about impending fines on BNP Paribas (for violating US sanctions on Sudan and Iran) and peevishly defend the sale of Mistral assault ships to Russia. You want to bitch to Barry about how mean the US is to your big bank, François Gérard Georges Nicolas? [Seriously, that's his name.] Pick up the damn phone. This was neither the time nor the place. Not about you. Not about BNP Paribas. Not about current France.
Yes, Ukraine and Russian revanchism are big deals. But there are many other forums in which those issues can be hashed out. There is only one 70th anniversary of D-Day. There are only a precious few survivors, and there will be even fewer alive for the next big commemoration.
We are governed by dwarves who are vastly over impressed with their own talents and importance. The way they observed D-Day today did a grave disservice to those who performed heroic service 70 years ago. They should be ashamed, but that would be to expect far, far too much.