With 11 days passed since the horrific actions in Paris, French President Francois Hollande arrived at the White House to discuss the conflict with President Barack Obama, likely asking for greater cooperation (with Russia - who Hollande will meet Thursday) in the battle against ISIS. Obama and Hollande made no statements as they began their meeting in the Oval Office but we can only imagine Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet over its border with Syria produced fresh complications for the international campaign against Islamic State.
Hollande met Monday with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and is scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.
He will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday.
Hollande is expected to encourage Obama to ramp up the U.S. campaign against Islamic State. Republican presidential candidates and, to a lesser extent, some Democratic lawmakers have complained that U.S. hasn’t made sufficient progress toward destroying the militant group.
Obama has said U.S. contributions to the military campaign are robust, and has called for unspecified international partners to increase their efforts. He opposes establishing a no-fly zone over parts of Syria or committing U.S. ground troops to the fight, escalations proposed by some Republicans.
“We will destroy them. We will take back land that they are currently in. We will cut off their financing. We will hunt down their leadership. We will dismantle their networks and their supply lines, and we will ultimately destroy them,” Obama said at a news conference on Sunday in Malaysia.
Live Feed (due to start at 1130ET)...
A dozen years ago, it was a French President -- Jacques Chirac -- who was calling for restraint as George W. Bush was bristling for war with Saddam Hussein in Iraq following the September 11 attacks. And it was a French foreign minister who warned that Washington might win the war but lose the peace if it fractured Iraq.
The changing dynamic between the two old allies reflects the impact of 14 long years of war that has left America weary of foreign intervention, as well as the insistence by Obama that a rush to war after terror attacks often goes awry.
It also reflects acute political pressures for immediate retribution faced by leaders -- like Hollande -- of nations that come under terrorist attacks and the consequential choices on national security they face at times of maximum national stress.
Hollande's domestic political pressure and desire to aggressively pursue ISIS may not be sufficient to overcome Obama's reluctance over his major agenda items: forming an enhanced coalition of military forces willing to escalate the battle against ISIS through ramped-up airstrikes and, to make that work, closer U.S. cooperation with Russia, which is also conducting strikes on the terror group and other elements in Syria.
* * *
Drink if Obama or Hollande say the word "Contained."