French President Francois Hollande has decided that the time has come for the French to enlighten the world with their perspective on the events occurring in Syria and Iraq.
In a statement provided to media outlets shortly after the beheading of American journalist James Foley, Hollande called for an international summit to craft a global response to the ISIS threat. He called on “all countries in the region” including Iran, to join the west in the fight. “We can no longer keep to the traditional debate…intervention or not. We must come up with a global strategy.”
He also announced that France would be supplying weapons to Kurdish forces fighting ISIS in the Northern provinces.
Hollande is a little late to the party…but at least he showed up. President Obama has been calling for an international response to ISIS for two years. But the French along with the rest of the international community have stood meekly by while allowing the US to do the heavy lifting. Apparently Hollande finally understands that the US is no longer willing to go it alone and that he and the rest of the world community are going to have to pitch in unless they want ISIS knocking on their doors.
I’d give Hollande a “thumbs up” if he had just left it there. But Hollande couldn’t resist the opportunity to point the finger of blame. In previous statements Hollande has made it clear that the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq has left a power vacuum that Iran, Syria, Russia and a host of radical Islamist terrorist groups have only been too willing to fill. Hollande blames Obama’s unwillingness to arm the Syrian rebels in response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons as the genesis of ISIS. So it comes as no surprise that Hollande included this gem in yesterday’s comments. “If one year ago major powers had reacted to the use of chemical weapons we wouldn’t have this terrible choice between a dictator and a terrorist group.”
Just to be clear…from the French perspective…Invading Iraq = bad. Leaving Iraq = bad. ISIS = bad. Failing to supply arms to Syrian rebels even though by all accounts many of those rebels were ISIS forces and anti-western terrorists = bad. Are you following this? The logic is simple if you are French.
Given the opportunity I would ask President Hollande the following;
Mr. President, if you were concerned about the vacuum resulting from US military forces leaving Iraq why didn’t the French or a European coalition step in to fill it?
Mr. President, if you believed that the Syrian rebels should have been provided arms to help in their fight against the Assad regime…why didn’t the French provide them?
Mr. President, if you are concerned about the increased Iranian and Russian influence in the region why does your country continue to sell them arms?
Mr. President, why did it take the French government two years to join President Obama in calling for a global response to the rise of terrorism in the world…specifically the threat posed by ISIS?
Of course we already know the answer to these questions...money.
The French were unwilling to arm the Syrian rebels in their fight against Assad because they didn’t want to get in the cross hairs of the Russians. Russia, an ally of Assad, is the number one supplier of gas and oil to the French as well as one of France’s biggest customers for military weaponry. France remained silent about Russia’s intervention in the Middle East and expansion into Crimea and Ukraine for the same reasons. Why bite the hand that feeds you? And why invest blood and treasure into a conflict when the US will do it for you?
To be clear…the entire situation in Syria and Iraq is the direct result of the United States entering into a wrongful and unnecessary war without any forethought of the aftermath. But Hollande’s words of wisdom are little more than a self serving attempt to put a bold face on France's impotent response to a very difficult and dangerous situation. Hollande knows that ISIS and terrorist groups like it are coming to the western world. He also knows that the American people are no longer willing to stand up while his country sits idly by.
So why DO so many Americans hate the French? Many believe that the anger stems from stories of the French collaborating with the Germans during WWII; straddling the fence until an apparent victor immerged. Others cite French accounts of the war as documented for all time in the Musee de I’Armee in Paris. If you tour of the museum you can’t help but come away with the impression that that Charles de Gaulle saved the world from the Nazis…the US war effort little more than a footnote. Perhaps it stems from self serving statements like those of President Hollande.
Or perhaps it is because only the French can exhibit a sanctimonious sense of pomposity that rivals our own.