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Last updateWed, 26 Jul 2017 8am

Politics

Obama Administration a “No-Show” at Paris Peace Rally

USA Today Paris Peace RallyEver since the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, the US has been a global leader in the worldwide fight against terrorism. That is why it is surprising to many that the Obama Administration did not send any high ranking officials to the anti-terrorism rallies in Paris this past January that were in response to the Charlie Hebdo attack that left 12 people dead. 

According to CNN, at least 3.7 million people, including multiple world leaders, marched in anti-terrorism rallies in Paris and other parts of France on Sunday Jan. 11. Some of the notable world leaders that attended the rallies included French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and various other world and religious leaders from many different faiths and backgrounds. Even the unlikely duo of the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmood Abbas, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu were in attendance. 

Despite the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris that day, he nor President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, or Secretary of State John Kerry were in attendance.  The White House only sent a low level ambassador to France, Jane Hartley, to represent the US. 

The Obama administration has been subjected to nationwide criticism and attacked by multiple media outlets including the New York Daily News, which displayed the phrase, “You let the world down” on the front cover of the newspaper on Jan 12. The Obama administration has also been ripped by both sides of the political spectrum. Liberal comedian Jon Stewart said on his show, “How can the US not be there when representatives from of such beacons of freedom and lack of censorship as journalist-punishing Russia was there?” 

 Also as expected, he was highly criticized by conservatives including Texas Senator Ted Cruz who said, “Our president should have been there, because we must never hesitate to stand with our allies.” 

On Jan. 12, the administration responded for the President with a statement from the White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, that said, “I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there.” Secretary of State, John Kerry, arrived in France on Thursday Jan. 15 to share “a big hug” with France, according to The Guardian. 

Dr. Kevin Dooley, Dean of the Honors School, said, “The Obama Administration’s absence from the Paris Memorial was a mistake on the part of the President, which he later acknowledged. I don’t think that it signals any type of departure from the United States’ policy of combatting terrorism.” 

He added that the absence is not a shot towards US allies. “The US has remained vigilant in its efforts to share information with countries around the world regarding potential threats. ISIS seems to be the President’s priority on that front since it seems to pose the largest problem in some of the world’s most vulnerable places, said Dooley.”

Dr. Saliba Sarsar, Vice President for Global Initiatives, had similar sentiments. He said, “In the larger scale, I don’t think this holds a lot of weight. We are allies with Europe and we are recognized as leaders in the fight against terrorism. We have invested dearly in this struggle.” Sarsar concluded that regardless of the incident, everyone should stand up against extremism and, “If we don’t do it now, we will be waiting another generation. We have the obligation to plant the seed now to help future generations.”  

Chris D’Elia, a junior political science major, said, “How can we as a nation be so critical of our executives for not attending a rally against terrorism? The US has led the fight against terrorism throughout the world for the past decade.” However, he continued, “It’s a quite troubling situation, I definitely agree, considering someone of more importance than an ambassador could have represented us.”  

On the larger scale, President Obama’s handling of terrorism and foreign policy, including ongoing negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, has been of concern by many Americans. According to a poll by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, 59 percent of Americans do not trust that Iran would abide by all of the terms in if an agreement was reached. 

Also according to the poll, 28 percent of Americans feel that an attack similar to the one in Paris is likely to happen in the US in the next few months and 45 percent said an attack is somewhat likely. Finally, 75 percent of Americans feel that ISIS is a major threat to national security and 49 percent of the public thinks that the government is not doing enough to prevent another attack on US soil. 

IMAGE TAKEN from usatoday.com

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