The United Nations Security Council has voted, a week after the brutal massacres in Paris, unanimously to authorize countries to “take all necessary measures” to fight Islamic terrorism.
The resolution, drafted and introduced by France, calls on all UN member states to “redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks” committed by Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] and other extremist groups linked to Al-Qaeda. The Council had been stymied over Syria’s bloody civil war now nearing five years largely due to the deep division of its members over the role Damascus bloody dictator Basher al Assad would play. The Western allies including a red line drawn by Pres. Obama insist he must play go while Moscow – with the support of Iran – are in fact supporting his continuing attempt at rule in Damascus.
It’s fitting that Paris took the lead in the latest. But, of course, as with so many UN actions, we are not sure how much it adds to the very necessary international solidarity to fight this plague. If proof were needed that the world faces a new kind of barbarity, it came only hours after the vote when Islamist gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Central African Mali’s capital Bamako ending after nine hours later with at least 27 dead.
French diplomats argued that the UN resolution, which provided no further legal basis for the campaign against the terrorists, would nevertheless reinforce the effort to mobilize international opinion and action. French diplomacy beat back a competing Russian resolution whose intent was to continue support for Syria’s dictator Basher al Assad, whose unprecedented war against his own people has precipitated the Mideast chaos.
In Paris itself, the French launched a campaign to remind themselves and the rest of the civilized world how much it has come to symbolize Western culture through the centuries. Paris’ celebration of life in all its aspects compares with the cult of death of the Islamicists.
Parisians were buying copies of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast”, placing them in shrines with candles and flowers where the victims were struck down. It was in response to a TV interview with one of those unique Parisiennes in her 70s, known only as Danielle, who had quoted one of Hemingway’s famous passages: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
“Reacting to barbarity through books is a very French thing,” writer and journalist Pierre Assouline, one of the judges of country’s most prestigious literary prize, the Goncourt, commented. The publisher of the Hemingway’s book – in French, “”Paris est une fête”, Paris is a party – was going into print to meet the demand.
But as much as these gestures please us, and remind us of the unique place Paris holds in our cultural traditions, we hope we will also remember that they have to be defended with force of arms. France is going full blast, given its relative military inferiority to the U.S. or even Britain, to annihilate Daesh. It will boost triple its bombing with the arrival of its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle within striking distance, especially now that the American carriers are being refitted. France will shortly be joined by Britain where Prime Minister David Cameron will call on Parliament for airstrikes in Syria.
One might well ask where the Obama Administration is in all this. Professions of support for our oldest ally, France, are less than convincing with the growing evidence that even the bombing campaign against Daesh has been half-hearted. Ironic as that may seem, at the moment it is France which is leading the charge to defend the West against the Islamicist barbarians.
Shades of Charles Martel and the Battle of Tours 1238 years ago last month when France turned back the Moslem conquest of the West!