The White House blew it. A high-profile U.S. official should have been among the many dozens of world leaders who linked arms and led the anti-terrorism rally that drew millions into the streets of Paris on Sunday. It was an important show of world solidarity in the face of violent Islamist extremism.
The administration admitted Monday that it made a mistake and fumbled around to make an excuse, but it still hasn’t told us why.
Security concerns may have made it wise for President Barack Obama himself to skip the hastily organized rally. It will be a long time before intelligence reports on the risks are known. But Vice President Joseph Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in India, should have been there. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was actually in Paris Sunday to see French officials, managed to give television interviews, but then said he had pressing security matters back home. Only U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley joined the rally, not a face anyone would recognize.
It matters in such emotionally wrenching times that the United States demonstrate it shares the commitment and strength to fight these jihadists. More important now is what France will do in retaliation for last week’s killings of 17 people, and what role the United States will play in that response. We’re all in when it comes to the war on terrorism, but also must be there when appearances matter, too. This is a global struggle that’s personal for both nations.
Even as a spokesman was presenting the administration’s mea culpa Monday for not giving the Paris march the attention it deserved, news broke that the social media accounts of the U.S. military’s Central Command had been hacked. The culprits claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group the United States, France and others are battling in Iraq and Syria.
The hack of Twitter and YouTube accounts likely didn’t compromise any sensitive information. But the unauthorized access is a sobering reminder that there are people constantly searching for ways to do all of us harm.
After 9/11, the sentiment “We are all Americans” swept the world. At this moment we are all French.