There is a certain bullishness in French circles these days, even if there was an initial attempt, with the Macron government, to calm matters down. The need to assert Gallic might in the face of brutality has again surfaced; and has a familiar ring to it. With Syria’s Bashar al-Assad getting more comfortable with military progress, officials in the United States, France and Britain are chewing finger nails and churning out policy papers of concern.
For them, Syria remains a chess piece they never quite controlled, an entity filled with failed “free” rebel fighters and packed with such agents of spoliation as murderous jihadi groups. But one group’s murderous antics are another’s decent balancing act in terms of strategy.
Even before US President Donald Trump decided to huff and issue the order that lead to the launch of 105 missiles from the triumvirate, France’s President Emmanuel Macron was being egged on to do something. He was also egging himself on to target the Assad regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons, despite having previously suggested that there was no “legitimate successor” to the Syrian President.
This impulse to punish, to instigate the use of force for the specific purpose of correcting a supposed violation of international norms was already being flagged last summer. “When you set out red lines, if you are unable to force them, then you decide to be weak.”
The Syrian imbroglio has not been an easy one to define for…