Just the other day U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry alighted from an airplane in Paris, be-bopped down the ramp, all by himself, and reached concrete to shake hands with the delegation gathered to meet him.
Kerry was there to save France, in the grips of what some have described as a civil war, which could soon end in Muslim extremists bringing down the French government.
One elite, intellectual analyst is rumored to have even likened the coming climatic Battle for Paris to the 1954 Battle for Dien Bien Phu, when Communist-backed “freedom fighters” kicked the French out of Indochina.
When news cameras caught Kerry’s arrival (never mind that it was carefully choreographed) one could detect, by lip-reading, language that may become part of Kerry’s historic legacy.
Undoubtedly, Kerry’s opening words were, “Lafayette, we are here,” reflecting in part his French connections. (As a child, he attended Swiss boarding school and spent summers at his maternal grandparents’ home in Paris and speaks fluent French.)
American students who attended elementary and high school when U.S. History was still being taught, will remember that U.S. Colonel C.E. Stanton, as he stood at the Marquis de Lafayette’s tomb in Paris July 4, 1917, after promising the French that America’s “blood and treasure are yours,” was quoted as saying, “Layayette, we are here.”
(Stanton couldn’t know that the American people would expend again and again blood and treasure over for the next 100 years to save fair weather ally France.)
Kerry faces a daunting task, given the history of French soldiers’ tendency – at least since the days of Napoleon Bonaparte – to cut and run when there is danger of being shot at or bombed.
The White House seems to think that Kerry has a good chance of succeeding, given his successes in saving from Islamic rule the nations of Libya, Egypt, Iraq and Syria – and the state of Massachusetts.
Unlike the French in 1954, though, Kerry faces the problem of how to resolve the civil war, in large part the result of France’s long-established policy of open borders, given that under U.S. policy its borders have been, and are, just as porous.
One could also imagine Kerry echoing the famous words of General Douglas MacArthur, uttered in 1944 during World War II.
“I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil,” MacArthur said, on landing in Leyte, Philippines October 20, 1944.
Kerry, reflecting his French connection, might have said, “I have returned.”
Like Kerry’s arrival by air in Paris, MacArthur’s wade ashore was carefully staged.
To be fair, although the famous photo showing MacArthur and his accompanying party wading ashore was taken three months later at a different beach than at the original Leyte landing site, the photographer reportedly said that MacArthur only walked once for cameras. There was only one “take.”
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