History has its ironies, yet this one is too terrible to contemplate. Recall that French President Jacques Chirac refused to enlist in the worldwide “war on terror” at the time of the Iraq invasion. By standing aside, he saved France from complicity with the torture and lawlessness that have damaged the international reputations of the United States and Britain. But, rather than following in Chirac’s footsteps, Hollande is now endorsing indiscriminate war talk at a time when President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have been cautiously extricating themselves from the legacy left by George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
Worse yet, it is all too likely that the West will lose the “war” that Hollande seems to want. After military defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. and British publics will not support another massive ground invasion in the Middle East. Despite the bellicosity of some GOP candidates, there is broad support for Obama’s recent statement making it clear that no such invasion is in the offing.
War is not winnable without Western ground troops. After all, the Obama administration has already tried and failed to fill the gap by funding the development of powerful moderate Arab ground forces. Last month, it abandoned its half-billion-dollar initiative after finding that it had created only a handful of combat-ready troops while allowing Islamic State to obtain advanced American weapons through corrupt deals with “moderate” leaders.