When Britain’s retired top brass get together in their clubs to harrumph about something, the something is nearly always the current state of the armed forces, which they invariably deplore. In France, they go further. They call for the rebirth of the nation and the purging of its enemies, real and imagined. 

Last week, the magazine Valeurs Actuelles, which can usually be relied upon to air the concerns of the far right in France, published a letter by 20 retired generals, a hundred or so high-ranking officers still in uniform and “more than a thousand” other officers from all sections of the armed forces that denounces the imminent “disintegration” of La Patrie and proclaims their willingness to support policies necessary to ensure national salvation.