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Bastille Day

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UK troops join Bastille Day march

British armed forces have led Wednesday's Bastille Day parade in Paris for the first time.

They were guests of honour for the march as part of a series of events marking the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale with France.

The Ministry of Defence says almost 200 personnel from four military units were at the parade along the Champs Elysees.

The parade commemorates the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, which started the French Revolution.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Michael Walker, and the three service chiefs of staff were in Paris for the parade, alongside French President Jacques Chirac and his Cabinet.

Relationship 'recognised'

Mr Hoon said it was an honour for British personnel to be involved in the parade.

He said it was important that the military aspect of the two countries' relationship had been recognised.

"It is a real and vital part of what has brought our two countries together over the last 100 years," he said.

Jets perform a flyover of the Bastille march

Air force flyovers opened and closed the parade

French Air Force jets performed a flyover to open the parade, while the Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force's aerobatic team, performed one to close it.

The Grenadier Guards - who fought in the battle of Waterloo - marched at the head of the parade.

The focus this year has been on friendlier times, beginning with the Entente Cordiale.

The Queen visited Paris in April, starting a year of special events to celebrate the centenary of the agreement signed in London in 1904.

Its aim was to settle disputes between the two colonial powers in countries from Morocco to Newfoundland, but it also led to their alliance during the First World War.

Last month Mr Hoon signed agreements with his French counterpart, Michele Alliot-Marie, designed to foster closer military planning between the two countries.

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As part of the Entente Cordiale centenary, UK troops were invited to join the traditional Bastille Day parade through the centre of Paris for the first time.

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Members of the Royal Marines' band joined musicians from the French Republic Guard.

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French President Jacques Chirac watched as the military troops and hardware processed along the Champs Elysees.

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Overhead, French and UK military aircraft performed fly-pasts, red, white and blue smoke trailing behind them.

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The UK Red Arrows display team were among 100 aircraft on display.

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The French Air Force displays also included an aerial refuelling tanker and four Mirage jets.

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Bastille Day marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, sparking the French Revolution and the fall of the monarchy.

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The UK troops, some of whom met Mr Chirac on Tuesday, said they were honoured to take part in the occasion.

From BBC

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Not to rain on their parade, but it has long puzzled me as to why France would want to celebrate an incident which is best forgotten - a bloody, ghastly spectacle which led to a bloody, ghastly spectacle called the French Revolution.

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Hmm, the French dispose of the King and the Monarchy and replace it with a democracy. Sounds very similar to the American Revolution from a few years earlier, why would you be against that?

(1) Why would you say that a democracy is to be preferred over monarchy ? America's founders seriously considered importing a monarch, and later, nearly appointed Washington king.

(2) The French Revolution was very much an exercise in democracy (power to the people, in a brutal sense), and a wretched one at that.

(3) At the Bastille, a prison cook was fried alive on a griddle and a young aristocratic women was seized, her sexual organs cut off and placed on a pole to be paraded through the streets. Just a sampling of the horrid events on that day.

(4) America's own founders, including Jefferson, were thoroughly revulsed by the Revolution.

(5) Lastly, my French teacher in college once told me, "You Americans really know how to do a revolution !" ;)

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Well the French had no monopoly on gruesome acts during their Revolution. One only has to look at the actions that were taken by the Patriots (some at Jefferson's instigation) against the Indians who had mostly allied themselves with the British. In the frontiers they routinely burned out entire villages with the people in them, so they would no longer be a threat. And it was quite common to kill Indians by either scalping them, and/or skinning them alive. Quite gruesome indeed.

I don't have to explain to you why a Constitutional Democracy was preferable to the Monarchy they had in place at the time of the French and American revolutions. The Kings in those days had the same kind of abusive power that I have heard you fault Saddam Hussein for in other posts.

Ah, but you do have to explain why, in general, democracy is to be preferred to monarchy, especially as regards France at the time of its revolution, given that the real atrocities occured in the revolution. Moreover, our revolution was not so much a strike at monarchy as with a particular monarch. America was not founded as a democracy, it only became such much later.

And the barbarities of the American Revolution cannot compare with those of the French Revolution, which was a ghastly blood orgy from beginning to end.

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If the King of England was living in the New World at the time, I'm sure that American Revolutionaries would not have hesitated to behead him. Unfortunately war and revolutions are accompianied by bloodshed and death. Wouldn't it have been nice if the monarchs had just offered us our freedoms without fighting against us?

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France can be credited for starting the domino effect which sent plenty of Kings and Queens packing their bags in England - therefore we can all tip our hats off to France for progressing democracy in the world. :)

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If the King of England was living in the New World at the time, I'm sure that American Revolutionaries would not have hesitated to behead him. Unfortunately war and revolutions are accompianied by bloodshed and death. Wouldn't it have been nice if the monarchs had just offered us our freedoms without fighting against us?

Again, in general, we revolted against a monarch, not the monarchy.

And whereas our revolution was certainly a bloody war born of an impulse to be free from tyranny, the French revolution was a blood orgy born of envy and boredom.

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France can be credited for starting the domino effect which sent plenty of Kings and Queens packing their bags in England - therefore we can all tip our hats off to France for progressing democracy in the world. :)

I don't

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Well that is easy enough. When a government completely fails the people so bad they are willing to risk death to overthrow it, then you have your answer. The French democracy hasserved its people well enough that it has existed far longer than any Monarchy that existed prior to it existance.

BTW, the USA was never a monarchy so even if it was considered, the matter is not relevant.

In regards to which revolution was more barbaric for the manner in which people died, I think it is simply a waste of time to even comment on it. Tens of thousands dead is gruesome no matter how you look at it. Being blown apart by a cannon, burned up, skinned alive, or simply dying due to the bad medical practices are all pretty bad if you ask me.

In any case, you have not given us any reasons as to why the French should not celebrate their "revolution" when the 4th of July is such an event in the USA.

I can tell you're not a student of history. ;)

So you think the French should celebrate with great fanfare an event where a drooling mob stormed a castle to release one prisoner, and to sate their bloodlust, fried a man alive and paraded a maiden's sexual organs on a stick through the streets ?

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Haha, you say I am not a student of history yet you are judging the actions of 18th century revolutionaires by the standards of the 21st century. I would never do that.

In anycase, I think they should celebrate their revolution. Very few revolutions in history have been bloodless, but most of the good ones resulted in better lives for common person. Both the French and the American revolutions would fall into the good category.

18th and 21st century is a red herring. Our own founders who had experienced the American Revolution were horrified by what they witnessed in France.

And out of the French Revolution came stark terror and maddening chaos which created a void ripe for the strong hand of Napoleon.

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Again, in general, we revolted against a monarch, not the monarchy.

There was talk by some and a desire to make Washington a king. Yes, that's true. But that has more to do with the fact that that is the form of government that people were used to, not with the fact that we were overturning the monarchy on our soil.

American democracy didn't exist before the founding fathers invented it, it's not hard to understand why some would like to go forward with a government style that was familiar. The founding fathers from the outset wanted to create a republic which had never been seen on Earth before. It's not surprising that some people had a fear of the unknown and not much faith in the experiment that the founding fathers set out to try.

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There was talk by some and a desire to make Washington a king. Yes, that's true. But that has more to do with the fact that that is the form of government that people were used to, not with the fact that we were overturning the monarchy on our soil.

American democracy didn't exist before the founding fathers invented it, it's not hard to understand why some would like to go forward with a government style that was familiar. The founding fathers from the outset wanted to create a republic which had never been seen on Earth before. It's not surprising that some people had a fear of the unknown and not much faith in the experiment that the founding fathers set out to try.

There is no question that our Founding Fathers endeavored to form a unique system of governance. Aside from criticizing the aggrandizement of the French Revolution, I am calling into question the "democracy is preferrable to monarchy" assertion.

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I have little doubt that a government of the people and by the people is prefferable to what amounts to a dictatorship. But maybe others have a different opinion.

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I have little doubt that a government of the people and by the people is prefferable to what amounts to a dictatorship. But maybe others have a different opinion.

Well, this is a natural assumption ... assuming that the people govern themselves charitably (do they ?), and that a king cannot govern charitably (can't he ?).

Put more graphically, democracy amounts to nose-counting and does not in itself promote or foster civility, respect and liberty.

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Dale, why don't you explain why a monarchy is preferrable to a democracy?

Would you really prefer one person deciding everything without fear of reprival?

No one can argue that the French Revolution wasn't a horrible event in the context that they they did some awful things. However, to the French the Bastille seems to represent the epitome of the old monarch and aristocracy. You also should recognize that the French kings weren't exactly "nice guys." The fact is that the storming of the Bastille was the beginning of the first French Revolution. Its no so much what happened as it is that this event was key in starting a chain of other events that eventually led to a free and better France.

The real question is why where the French stupid enough to reinstate the monarchy. Twice. Go figure.

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Dale, why don't you explain why a monarchy is preferrable to a democracy?

Would you really prefer one person deciding everything without fear of reprival?

No one can argue that the French Revolution wasn't a horrible event in the context that they they did some awful things. However, to the French the Bastille seems to represent the epitome of the old monarch and aristocracy. You also should recognize that the French kings weren't exactly "nice guys." The fact is that the storming of the Bastille was the beginning of the first French Revolution. Its no so much what happened as it is that this event was key in starting a chain of other events that eventually led to a free and better France.

The real question is why where the French stupid enough to reinstate the monarchy. Twice. Go figure.

First and foremost, monarchy is not in itself oppressive, nor does it restrict freedom. On the other hand, democracy can be tyrannical.

Tonight, I'll comment more, but I need to tell that with respect to the French Revolution, the solution was arguably far worse than the problem. Again, the French Revolution was born of envy and boredom.

As to whether France is now freer and better, I daresay we'll never know, since monarchy has not been tried in France for a very long time.

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Well that is obvious to everyone here. We are however discussing specific instances, i.e. the French & English Monarchy (of the 18th century) vs the American & French Revolution.

Well, in that case, the mob was very much more tyrannical than the king that they beheaded.

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Dale is being a little more ornary than normal on this subject.

Regardless, a goverment of the people, no matter how messy, is infinitely more preferable than a goverment in which the average person does not have a say.

A benelovent monarch no matter how compassionate, only lasts a lifetime.

This is not a dig, just a curiosity, are your views on monarchs in any way related to your religious views? King of kings and all that.

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No I don't think so. Tyrannical means to be a tyrant. Mobs can't be tyrants because they do not rule anything.

Main Entry: ty

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