This is one of the most unpopular headlines an American blogger can write, a guaranteed hit-suppressor. But it is true nevertheless, as President Obama is now finding out.
The immediate problem is Afghanistan; the President wants 10,000 troops from our allies to match the 30,000 the President is putting in. Britain already has 9,000 and has bravely committed to have more than 10,000 total within months. Poland, still worried enough about both Russia and Germany to want to keep close to the United States, is also putting in another 600; Italy today committed 1,000 more troops to the fight. Overall, NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says he can see where 5,000 new troops are coming from.
The problem is (as usual, I can hear some of you saying) France. France currently has 3,759 troops in Afghanistan and it is one of the few NATO allies who can really help there, but President Nicholas Sarkozy has been perfectly clear on the subject of reinforcements. The answer is Non.
Loyal readers of this blog are not surprised. Back in September I warned that President Obama had unintentionally given serious offense to our touchy Gallic allies and that sooner or later he could expect to find an elegant stiletto neatly implanted between his shoulder blades.
Le voila, as they say in the Hexagon: There it is. No more troops for your crazy foutu Anglo-Saxon war in Afghanistan Monsieur Pense-Qu’il-Est-Lincoln-Mais-C’est-Actuellement-Jimmy-Carter.
There will be more trouble ahead; this ill wind has only begun to blow.
There are two tragedies here. The first is that while Americans don’t fully get this, France can help us more than we think — especially with the kind of foreign policy President Obama wants to try. The second is that France’s help is not all that hard to get. Most of what France wants from us we can give. (more…)