Last week’s terrorist attacks were France’s equivalent of 9/11. Except that after America’s 9/11, there was no million-person solidarity march in the streets of New York. There was in Paris last Sunday, and more than 40 world leaders attended. Canada sent a cabinet minister.
But the United States sent no one of note. It was a day of shock and grieving and solidarity, but America was unrepresented. France is America’s ally in NATO; more than 200 years ago, France was America’s first ally, aiding in its war of independence.
The diplomatic damage was done. John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, was dispatched to Paris on Friday – nine days after the attacks – to try to fix things. He promised to give France a “big hug.” That’s what he said. As if the French were waiting for that, from him.