We have discussed parallels between the U.S. in Iraq and the French in Algeria before. But this passage from Algeria, the Model by Scott McConnell is really astonishing:
After one battle in which a platoon of French reservists was ambushed and wiped out, the rhetoric escalated as France sought more grandiose justification for a conflict it couldn’t face losing. French Resident Minister Robert Lacoste described the war in Algeria as "but one aspect of a gigantic global struggle, where a number of Muslim countries, before collapsing into anarchy, are trying through Hitlerian strategies to install an invasive dictatorship. … The war we are waging … is that of the Western world, of civilization, against anarchy, democracy against dictatorship." By the third year of the war, language like this was commonplace among diplomats and intellectual partisans of Algérie Française, who increasingly depicted the conflict as "terror" against "liberty." To justify the sacrifices of the war, much of the French political class essentially talked itself into believing that defeating the rebels in Algeria was a matter of national life and death, which of course made a negotiated withdrawal that much more difficult to contemplate.
I guess I thought that the neocons, for all that could be said against them, were at least original.