France Needs Strategic Approach to Its War With al-Qaeda

Sally McNamara /

France’s declaration of war on al-Qaeda is merely a public statement of fact: France takes counterterrorism seriously. Following last weekend’s statement from al-Qaeda that it had murdered a septuagenarian French aid worker, Prime Minister Francois Fillon declared “war.” French troops have since attacked al-Qaeda bases in North Africa and ramped up cooperation with Paris’s regional allies.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy should translate this public show of strength to France’s other theater of war against Islamist terrorists: Afghanistan. France has been just one of several European countries to under-resource the U.N.-mandated International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. They have provided too few troops with too many national caveats on their deployments, and in 2007, Paris turned down a NATO request for desperately needed additional helicopters. When President Obama outlined the alliance’s new counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan in December and requested a European show of support, Sarkozy grossly undercut Obama by announcing that he would not send “a single soldier more” to Afghanistan. (more…)