The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Vive La France: Neocons Praising French Socialists

Freedom fries are no more and French fries are back on the menu for American neocons. Max Boot now praises France’s Socialist President—in the pages of Commentary, no less—for leading the charge against radical Islam in Mali. He depicts France as the West’s last, best hope in its fight against radical Islam, as President Obama sits on the sidelines and Britain’s military power declines:

This could well be a harbinger of things to come: Given the “lead from behind” doctrine that animates the current American administration, and the declining defense capabilities of Britain, France may well be left as the Western power on the front lines of the fight against Islamist extremism. This move is certainly in keeping with France’s traditionally activist role in its former African colonies–something that Hollande promised to abandon but now seems to be embracing.

Boot also cautions that entering a war is easier than exiting it, and urges a long-term commitment of more boots on the ground to “reestablish control.” And the dismal failure of previous U.S. attempts to build up a Malian army notwithstanding, he encourages France, the U.S., and others to try again, however difficult that task may be.

Not all French politicians have suddenly embraced unilateral military interventions. Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who famously spoke out against the Iraq War, has reliably come out against this intervention as well, lamenting how “le virus neoconservateur” has won over French minds. In an op-ed in Le Journal du Dimanche he warns that France lacks clear war aims and will be fighting alone and in the dark.

Via Meadia doubts that the sudden neoconservative love for the French presages a lasting entente cordiale. Relationships prove their true strength under duress—and we’re expecting plenty of duress in former French Soudan.

Published on January 16, 2013 5:27 pm