French-speaking Europe and no world wars: what if Napoleon won Waterloo?

Updated 07 June 2015
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French-speaking Europe and no world wars: what if Napoleon won Waterloo?

BRUSSELS, Belgium: It is the evening of June 18, 1815 and an exultant Napoleon Bonaparte surveys the field after winning the Battle of Waterloo, planning his next conquest.
Within years his empire will stretch as far as China, French will be spoken across the continent, and in the 20th century a global war between the great powers will be avoided because of the stability his rule created.
These are some of the alternate histories that writers and experts have envisaged had Napoleon really been victorious in the battle 200 years ago, which actually ended in his humiliating defeat and exile at the hands of British and Prussian forces.
Historian Helmut Stubbe da Luz said that had Napoleon beaten generals Wellington and Bluecher on the plain of Waterloo, he would have carried on his march as far as northern Germany.
“Bremen, Hamburg and Luebeck would have become French again,” da Luz told AFP.
That scenario, however, should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt, da Luz added, as the European monarchies of the time would not have let a defeat at Waterloo go unavenged.
As Belgian historian Philippe Raxhon, a specialist in the Battle of Waterloo, puts it: “Waterloo was a total victory for the allies but it would not have been a total victory for Napoleon.”

Wider ambitions
But if one imagines that Bonaparte had eventually defeated his European enemies in the long-term, his ambitions afterwards would have been demonstrably larger, historians said.
“If Napoleon followed his original plans for 1810, he would have invaded Russia again and potentially extended his empire as far as China,” Helmut Stubbe da Luz said.
An even more radical scenario was put forward in the 19th century by the French writer Louis Geoffroy. In his novel “Napoleon and the Conquest of the World, 1812-1832” he described how Napoleon was able to overrun China, turning it into a mere “Asian province.”
The 1836 alternate history novel — a literary genre that imagines parallel realities and includes classics such as Philip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle” about a United States beaten by Japan and Germany — Geoffroy takes the story back to three years before Waterloo.
“I wrote the history of Napoleon from 1812 to 1832, from Moscow in flames to the universal monarchy and his death, 20 years of incessantly increasing glory which elevated him to an all-powerful level above whom there is only God,” he wrote in the introduction to the novel.
But what would an all-powerful Napoleon have been like to live under?
For Stubbe da Luz, “Napoleon was a dictator but not a reactionary dictator like the Tsar of Russia.”
Napoleonic rule across continental Europe, balanced by Britain’s enduring maritime supremacy, would not necessarily have been that bad for the world, he said.
“The dictatorship that Napoleon exported to the countries under his domination was a regression compared to the progress of the French Revolution, but it wasn’t bad for his new subjects in Germany, Holland, Italy and Spain,” he said.
He cited the “equality of rights for religious minorities and rural populations, the right to vote for men, a new judicial system and an expanded economic area.”

Risky business
Cautiously looking further into the future, the historian imagines a “continental Europe dominated by France” throughout the 19th century.
Had that happened Germany would not have become so strong during that period, he says.
“Germany would therefore probably not have been in a position to provoke a First and Second World War,” he said.
But imagining parallel histories is risky business for historians.
“The causes of events are innumerable,” said Raxhon, the Belgian historian, from the University of Liege.
He limited himself to scenarios directly linked to the fates of the main protagonists. For example, a defeated Duke of Wellington would no doubt have returned by sea to England via Ostend, because Wellington himself had “envisaged losing the battle,” he said.
Novelists of course have freer rein. In his 1992 best-seller “Fatherland,” British writer Robert Harris imagines a Germany in 1964 that is preparing for a visit of the American president “Joseph Peter Kennedy” (JFK’s father) to Adolf Hitler, the winner of World War II.
That of course is a war that according to some scenarios would not have happened... if Napoleon had won at Waterloo.


‘Send her back!’, US crowd roars as Trump steps up ‘racist’ attack on 4 congresswomen

Updated 10 min 41 sec ago
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‘Send her back!’, US crowd roars as Trump steps up ‘racist’ attack on 4 congresswomen

  • Trump's targets are Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan
  • He described the targets his hate campaign as "hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down"

GREENVILLE, North Carolina: Going after four Democratic congresswomen one by one, a combative President Donald Trump turned his campaign rally Wednesday into an extended dissection of the liberal views of the women of color, deriding them for what he painted as extreme positions and suggesting they just get out.
“Tonight I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down,” Trump told the crowd in North Carolina, a swing state he won in 2016 and wants to claim again in 2020. “They never have anything good to say. That’s why I say, ‘Hey if you don’t like it, let ‘em leave, let ‘em leave.’“
Eager to rile up his base with the some of the same kind of rhetoric he targeted at minorities and women in 2016, Trump declared, “I think in some cases they hate our country.”
Trump’s jabs were aimed at the self-described “squad” of four freshmen Democrats who have garnered attention since their arrival in January for their outspoken liberal views and distaste for Trump: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All were born in the US except for Omar, who came to the US as a child after fleeing Somalia with her family.
Taking the legislators on one at a time, Trump ticked through a laundry list of what he deemed offensive comments by each woman, mangling and misconstruing many facts along the way.
Omar came under the harshest criticism as Trump played to voters’ grievances, drawing a chant from the crowd of “Send her back! Send her back!“
Trump set off a firestorm Sunday when he tweeted that the four should “go back” to their home countries — though three were born in the United States. Trump has accused them of “spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician.”
Before he left Washington, Trump said he has no regrets about his ongoing spat with the four. Trump told reporters he thinks he’s “winning the political argument” and “winning it by a lot.”
“If people want to leave our country, they can. If they don’t want to love our country, if they don’t want to fight for our country, they can,” Trump said. “I’ll never change on that.”
Trump’s harsh denunciations were another sign of his willingness to exploit the nation’s racial divisions heading into the 2020 campaign.
His speech was filled with Trump’s trademark criticisms about the news media, which he says sides with liberals, and of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. Mueller had been scheduled to testify Wednesday on Capitol Hill, but it was postponed. Trump brought him up anyway. “What happened to me with this witch hunt should never be allowed to happen to another president,” he said.
He also talked about illegal immigration, a main theme of his first presidential bid that is taking center stage in his re-election campaign. He brushed off the criticism he has gotten for saying that the congresswomen should go back home. “So controversial,” he said sarcastically.
The four freshmen have portrayed the president as a bully who wants to “vilify” not only immigrants, but all people of color. They say they are fighting for their priorities to lower health care costs and pass a Green New Deal addressing climate change, while his thundering attacks are a distraction and tear at the core of America values.
The Democratic-led US House voted Tuesday to condemn Trump for what it labeled “racist comments,” despite near-solid GOP opposition and the president’s own insistence that he doesn’t have a “racist bone” in his body.
Trump hasn’t shown signs of being rattled by the House rebuke, and called an impeachment resolution that failed in Congress earlier Wednesday “ridiculous.” The condemnation carries no legal repercussions and his latest harangues struck a chord with supporter in Greenville, whose chants of “Four more years!” and “Build that wall!” bounced off the rafters.
Vice President Mike Pence was first up after spending the day in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and visiting troops at Fort Bragg. “North Carolina and America needs four more years,” Pence said.
It was Trump’s sixth visit to the state as president and his first 2020 campaign event in North Carolina, where he defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Before Trump arrived, Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, spoke at a rally in Greenville and called Trump “just another corrupt snake oil salesman.”
“From sparking a harmful trade war that puts our farmers in the crosshairs, to giving corporations a billion-dollar giveaway at the expense of our middle class, to repeatedly pushing to end protections for pre-existing conditions and raise health care costs, his broken promises have hurt hard-working families across North Carolina,” Goodwin said.