The Mistress of Europe
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité! The French national motto of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” underpins a country rich in history, populated by an industrious and artistic people. Past glory saw France stride atop the world, its language and culture spread throughout Africa, the Mideast, the Pacific and the Americas. During France’s imperial days, Paris, the city of lights, bustled with industry and financial prosperity—the jewel of Europe.
Today we see a very different France emerging. With the nation’s defeat by the British at Waterloo and Trafalgar, France found itself diminished to a second-rate power under dominance by the vast British Empire. Then, since World War II, it has sat very uncomfortably under U.S. hegemony. Even more so, France’s attempt to reassert itself as a major world power has been increasingly frustrated since the death of its greatest post-war leader, Charles de Gaulle. Striving to form a working partnership with Germany as the two leading nations of Europe, France has too often found itself playing second fiddle to the nation that, throughout history, has been its declared enemy.
Herbert Armstrong foresaw these events in advance of their fulfillment. He warned in print and through radio and television that France would weaken, Germany would rise and Europe would unite. In August 1968 his Paris News Bureau, established to watch events in France and Europe, reported the following in the Plain Truth: “After De Gaulle’s departure, France will then resume her traditional role of economic and political instability. Then when France becomes weakened sufficiently, it will be the nationalist Germans who will become dominant in the Common Market—replacing the French as the most influential nation in the eec. Such a weak, sickly France—bereft of De Gaulle’s strong leadership—will then play second fiddle to Germany.” And a report from Paris in the June 1969 Plain Truth states, “Regardless of whoever is at the helm of France’s government from now on you will see more chaos and instability! She will stumble from one crisis to another—playing a subordinate role to Germany! This is absolutely certain.”
The French remember that twice over the last century Germany has overrun its borders. Not wanting to rock the boat and antagonize Germany, France is being increasingly bullied into playing a subservient role to the Berlin-based powerhouse of Europe.
Betrayal of a Brother
Reuben (the ancient name for today’s French-speaking peoples) was the firstborn son of Jacob, father of the 12 tribes of biblical Israel. Anciently Jacob’s sons conspired to kill their younger brother Joseph, jealous of his close relationship with their father. Reuben permitted the conspiracy and aided and abetted in the plan to remove his youngest brother suggesting they not kill him but rather cast him into a pit in the wilderness. The brothers followed Reuben’s advice; but, sensing Reuben’s weakness, they then sold Joseph to some traders passing by, who subsequently sold him into slavery in Egypt. Reuben returned, realizing what had happened, but it was too late. He was now caught in the trap of his family infighting and forced to fabricate a story for their father about Joseph being torn to pieces by a wild beast (Gen. 37:12-33).
At first glance it may seem as though Reuben acted well. He proposed an alternative to killing Joseph by throwing him in a pit. But is that what was expected of Reuben? Is that all he could do as the firstborn son, the leader of the children? At the time within ancient Israel, the firstborn received privileges his brothers and sisters did not. His heritage was larger, and he received a greater portion of blessings. He was next to his father in power and authority. Therefore Reuben was actually responsible for what happened to Joseph. His job was to act the way his father would have if he had been there—not to compromise with his younger brothers in their actions against Joseph.
Reuben did not act with courage and dignity. Afraid of his enraged brothers—so afraid he didn’t even remain with them to see what they finally decided to do with Joseph (v. 29)—all Reuben could think of was compromise. Compromise was not fulfilling his duty and responsibility as the firstborn. Reuben simply failed.
History Repeats Itself
There is a striking parallel between Reuben’s behavior in the past and that of France today. The late Herbert W. Armstrong saw in advance that France, like Reuben, would weakly compromise and betray its brother.
He often said, on the air and in print, that there would arise a “United States of Europe” which would enslave the American and British peoples. In August 1966 the Plain Truth’s Paris Bureau reported, “Reuben’s modern descendants will be at the side of the prophesied ‘beast’ of Revelation when the Anglo-Saxons (the descendants of Joseph) are taken captive. France, like its forefather Reuben, will probably seek a compromise to prevent its former allies—the very sons of Joseph—from being taken captive by the enemy….
“During the last two world wars France was at the side of her natural allies, the Anglo-Saxons. They are, indeed, her natural allies because the French people, in turn, are the modern descendants of…Reuben! The situation, however, will be quite different during the next world war. France will no longer fight at the side of her former allies; she will turn against them. The descendants of Reuben will play their part in selling into slavery their brother Joseph—just as Reuben did some 3,700 years ago.”
Germany permitted France to lead the way in the implementation of the euro currency. Germany is content to allow France to push through the implementation of the 60,000-strong European Defense Force.
In a stunning article Ben Fenton of the Daily Telegraph reported on November 11, 1999, “The European Union, and France in particular, is progressively breaking up nato….” Speaking at the invitation of the House of Representatives committee on international relations, Duncan Smith placed the blame for the undermining of American and British security squarely on Paris, saying, “I believe France has never felt comfortable with the nato alliance and has for a long time wished for the construction of a common European defense as a top priority” (ibid.).
“The unbridled nature of U.S. power has rankled France more than any other nation. Once a world power, French influence is overshadowed by Hollywood, McDonald’s, the U.S. economy and Washington’s military muscle. Jospin, President Jacques Chirac and Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine have in the last month repeatedly condemned U.S. ‘hyperpower’ and stressed the importance of a multi-polar world” (Stratfor, Dec. 17, 1999).
Herbert Armstrong predicted that, just as jealous Reuben anciently betrayed his brother, the same will be true in the end time, as France’s involvement in the German-dominated EU will cause it to betray its brothers, the U.S. and Britain.
Before his death, Jacob [renamed Israel] told Reuben that he was “unstable as water” (Gen. 49:4). That water-like instability has continued up to this day. For that reason, we will see the current trend grow stronger: France will remain Europe’s mistress and not its master.