Today is the anniversary of the death of Emperor Napoléon I of France, in exile on St. Helena, in 1821. 5 May is also significant to Bonapartists for a more positive reason, it is also the birthday of Empress Eugenie, wife of Emperor Napoléon III, in 1826.
Speaking of Emperor Napoléon III, on this day, his forces in Mexico suffered a check at the Battle of Puebla, on the road to Mexico city, in 1862. The Count of Lorencez, with his tough little army of line infantry; Chasseurs a Pied; Zouaves; mounted Chasseurs d'Afrique; sailors with rifles; and, troops of La Coloniale -- the French Marines -- tried to overrun General Zaragoza's dug-in Mexican Army and militia straight off the march, but soon learned that fighting even raw or half-trained troops in buildings and behind the walls and trenches of both regular and extemporized fortifications was quite different from catching them in the open.
General-de-Division Count Lorencez possibly deserves a marginally better press than he gets. True, he rushed into a fight after only slapdash reconnaissance and after ignoring advice from friendly Mexicans. But he had reasons for haste: he was trying to collapse resistance to the French and the Mexican faction they supported with a quick blow to the Mexican forces around Puebla. Plus, he had some really splendid troops, and had routed a similar Mexican force with ease on 28 April at Aculzingo. Count Lorencez would not be the first general confronted, without realizing it, with a politico-military situation that was quite beyond him. Possibly my Francophile side is showing. In any case, the anniversary of the Puebla engagement is celebrated in Mexico as Cinco de Mayo.
Around the blogosphere, check out Wretchard's discussion of the possible consequences of Israel's new determination to unilaterally set borders and leave the Palestinians to stew in their own juices. The Egyptians have bombs going off all over the Sinai, possibly a consquence of the Israelis pulling out of Gaza. What will happen when Israel leaves the West Bank, which is 20 times larger ?
Lots of reaction out there to Mr. Moussaoui's burial alive in the Colorado Supermax, most of it unfavorable. Lots of folks seem to think he should have gotten the needle.
People looking for harshness need not be disappointed. Mr. Moussaoui is getting the ultimate in hard time. I cannot imagine that level of isolation, year on year. Mr. Moussaoui seems unstable enough as is: if he can survive ten years under such a regime without going completely mad, I will be shocked. Execution would have been much kinder.
The whole circus atmosphere surrounding this case proves to me what a mistake it is to try these matters in civilian courts, in the United States, under the eyes of the press; where evilly- disposed persons and groups (defendants and others) can play criminal procedure games and generally make a mockery of the system, while using the process to gain a platform for their several causes. This is not a law enforcement matter: this is a military situation, more akin to old-time piracy than anything else. The military commission route is the way to go with these people.
In any event, a cruel fate indeed for this terrorist, but less cruel than his knowning in advance what was in store for several hundred airline passengers and all the other people who died on 9/11 -- and doing nothing to stop it. So here's to Mr. Moussaoui rotting, and may we never hear of him again.