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France Out on Limb Over Syria

An assertive French policy on Syria has revealed the marginalization of France, and the EU, in dealing with Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (R) hold a news conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris September 7, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama has made no decisions about waiting for a U.N. weapons inspectors' report on chemical arms use in Syria and he is keeping all his options open, Kerry said on Saturday.  REUTERS/Susan Walsh/Pool (FRANCE - Tags: POLITICS) - RTX13BSN

The latest developments in the diplomatic crisis over the use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 in the Syrian conflict put France, arguably the most hawkish of the Western countries, in an embarrassing situation. Since the beginning of this new chapter in the Syrian crisis, French officials expressed by far the strongest resolve to retaliate against the [Bashar al-]Assad regime.

While US President Barack Obama carefully weighed his options for several days and British Prime Minister David Cameron consulted the House of Commons, French President Francois Hollande and his Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had already pledged to “punish” the regime. The rhetoric used by the French mixed principles of “responsibility to protect” with the necessity to restore the “taboo” on the use of chemical weapons. Fabius even went as far as to suggest that the UN Security Council could be bypassed because of probable vetoes by Russia and China.

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