Conspicuous by his absence

Sunday, over 40 world leaders marched arm-in-arm in Paris, in unity against the terrorist murders there a few days ago.

Shown above are French President François Hollande, surrounded by heads of state including (left to right) Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Council President Donald Tusk, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and Switzerland's President Simonetta Sommaruga.  Also marching, but outside the range of the photograph, were British prime minister David Cameron, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, Canada's Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, and Australian Senate president Stephen Parry.

Our country’s representative in the march was Jane Hartley.  Who?  Jane Hartley, who has been our ambassador to France for nearly three months now.  Normally our president would join other world leaders in such an event, especially since the French went so far as to send fighter jets and pilots to our country immediately after 9/11 to augment our own air defenses.  But the president was unavailable, so next in line would be VP Biden.  Biden must have been unavailable, too, so the next in line, protocol-wise, would be Secretary of State Kerry.  But Mr. Kerry was apparently also unavailable, so next in line would be any important Cabinet member.  It turns out that Attorney General Holder is in Paris today, but he was busy in meetings (with whom? Everyone was at the march!), so he could not attend the march, either.  But new ambassador Hartley stepped up to the task and joined the march, it is said.  She is not in the photo, nor was she anywhere else in that front line, but the news services report that she was in the march somewhere.  She did not join the other leaders in speaking at the event.

How sad.  If President Obama does not want us to lead the free world any longer, can’t we at least be on their team?

Dave DePriest is a retired Air Force Colonel and defense business consultant living in Atlanta, GA.

Update: Stu Tarlowe notes the incongruity of Mahmoud Abbas attending:

The sheer hypocrisy of his presence, not to mention the tolerance of his presence by the assembled "world leaders," is almost beyond measure.

I suppose the "official" line is that the PLO does not support terrorism (in the same way that "ISIS is not Islamic").

But I've come up with a new parlor game, which would be even more amusing if it weren't so tragic.  The game is to come up with analogies for Mahmoud Abbas marching to condemn terrorism.  My first three suggestions are as follows:

1) Mahmoud Abbas marching to condemn terrorism is like Larry Flynt marching to condemn pornography.

2) Mahmoud Abbas marching to condemn terrorism is like Jack the Ripper marching to condemn violence against women.

3) Mahmoud Abbas marching to condemn terrorism is like Colonel Sanders  marching to condemn fried chicken.

Readers are invited to find similar analogies.  This game could go on and on...

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