We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
He had good reasons. The French should have gotten their fleets out of the Med - anywhere else. Tough decision for Churchill to make, though. Perhaps the main point was to prove to FDR that Britain was determined to defend itself.
The French fleet ranged from sloops up to battleships, a very dangerous threat to Britain once the Nazis occupied France and the Vichy government pretended neutrality. The Nazis eventually did try to seize the remaining fleet.
Even as a high school student (I was bit of a history buff) it was clear why Churchill had to sink the French fleet. The French have a history of collaboration. Churchill understood this. Thus, he had to have that fleet sunk to prevent it from falling into German hands. I fail to see how this is controversial to anyone who knows history.
Churchill had the French fleet sunk to protect the Royal Navy in the Med. Period. They already had to cope with the German and Italian navies; the risk of a German-controlled French fleet (or a French fleet wholly subsumed by the Germans) was too great a risk to the British war effort.
As for the French having a "history of collaboration", no, they do not (how soon we forget what that country went through in WWI battling the German invaders). The collaboration began after their defeat by the Germans and while under the Vichy regime. This hardly counts as a "history of collaboration", particularly since the French fleet was attacked barely more than a week after France had surrendered.
"Gensoul was also personally offended that the British had sent a mere captain to negotiate with him, and Darlan was offended that Churchill did not trust his promise about keeping the French fleet out of German hands."
So, the French took it personally (what a shock) and paid for it with the lives of their own sailors.
Had nothing to do with a "dark decision" on Churchill's part.
When sailors in the ranks start making decisions in their navies regarding ship dispositions during wartime, they would hold the blame also.
Obviously, by "The French took it personally", I meant the French Admirals and ship commanders on the scene.
The normal course of decision making in the French Navy did not include polling on board ship as to what the crew thought should be done, as far as I know. That's why some wear the gold braid and most don't.
They're arrogance fucked it up. Plain and simple. They were responsible. Not Churchill, nor anyone else.
Churchill was a statesman, a leader, a military man. He was not always right and would have been a poor choice to lead the nation in peace and prosperity. But he was dogged to the extreme and the exact person that England needed at that time. But, had Hitler not made the foolish decision to fight Russia everything would have turned out differently. England and Western Europe just might be German today.
There was also apparently the issue of radar, which the British had, but not the Germans. Somewhere along the line, the British had apparently shared radar with the French allies. Reference vague, but from a "fiction" writer whose historical accuracy I trust. The comment - as I remember - was very bitter that the Brits had ever shared radar with their French allies, as the Germans obtained a lot of info from the remnants of the French fleet.