Saturday, September 13, 2014

This is Kind of Humiliating

President Obama got France in his coalition, showing Kerry finally figured out how to pass that global test for intervention. Now we are lagging France in commitment.

Sadly, despite all the hope and change and not-Bushiness (to say nothing of "smartness" and newly discovered nuance) of the Obama administration's world-friendly foreign policy, there are--difficulties:

The United States says it is "comfortable" it can forge an international coalition to fight Islamic State, but with Western and Middle Eastern allies hesitant, it risks finding itself out on a limb.

President Obama urging our allies forward with the words "we're right behind you" isn't as comforting as we assumed!

The French--that Gold Standard of a real coalition--explain:

"This coalition has to be efficient and targeted," said a senior French diplomat. "We have to keep our autonomy. We don't want to be the United States' subcontractor. For the moment they haven't made their intentions clear to us."

Ah, the French don't want to be our "subcontractor" just doing our dirty work.

I do believe I mentioned that "leading from behind" assumes we can get others to fight for our objectives--nice work if you can get it, I said.

And the French are embarrassing us with their relative degree of commitment:

France has so far sent weapons to Kurdish fighters in Iraq and humanitarian aid. It is likely to send about 250 special forces troops to help direct strikes for Rafale fighter jets.

As small as France's effort will be, they understand that boots on the ground to direct air strikes are kind of necessary to make them effective as timely ground support rather than striking targets of opportunity away from friendlies on the ground.

So we got what we wished--France is with us. And not only do they represent a "real" coalition, they demonstrate how a "real" intervention should work at minimum.