Heads of state from France’s closest allies joined more than a million people on the streets of Paris today in a march of unity following this week’s terror attacks — British prime minister David Cameron, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu were all there, joining more than 40 world leaders in total.
President Obama was not there, and neither was any top-level American official, not even the one who’d been in France the day before. Attorney General Eric Holder attended meetings about extremism in Paris this week but left before the march. When asked why the U.S. didn’t send a prominent representative, a White House official noted to BuzzFeed that the U.S. ambassador to France was present.
Well, the largest rally in French history, commemorating one of the most deadly terror attacks France has seen . . . yes, you’d hope she’d find the time.
Increasing the bizarreness of the snub, as Ian Bremmer pointed out on Twitter, is the fact that French president François Hollande has been one of the U.S.’s more stalwart allies in the war on terror in recent years. To Hollande’s left in the leaders at the front of the procession above is the president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Thousands of French troops have been making war on an al-Qaeda affiliate in Mali and basically holding the country together for a couple of years now. Nine French soldiers, and more than 100 French-trained Malian soldiers, have died in the operation.