His views on the Persians, among whom he lived (as diplomat) for years, precisely match those we find in The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (1824) — long given to English travellers as a kind of preparation and warning. Gobineau shocked critics who twitched, even then, at the despotism of their rulers, by complaining that the Persians were “too democratic.” He said they had accomplished nothing since the time of Herodotus; that if the British managed to enlist them as allies, they would attack the Russians next morning, be defeated by noon, and side with the Russians by evening. The trick, which he was trying to perform in the interest of France, was to keep them as enemies.
While de Valera’s upholding of the principle of neutrality during the second world war commanded him respect and widespread support at home, neutrality was conveniently ambiguous to allow a great deal of co-operation with Britain. But ultimately the end of de Valera’s first phase of power was decided by social and economic issues, and the continuing poverty of much of the country, and it was significant that the new party that challenged Fianna Fáils’ record in 1948 and won 10 seats, Clann na Poblachta (‘Family of the Republic’) tended to mirror Fianna Fails’ election promises from the early 1930s. Its emergence enabled the formation of the first inter-party (coalition) government.