The City of Lights was besieged by a series of terror attacks last week, which plunged the city and its people into sudden darkness. In an attempt to denounce these attacks, over 40 heads of the states from several countries gathered to hold an anti-terror rally in the city’s Boulevard Voltaire. While most of the world leaders themselves attended the rally, the absence of a high official from the US raised quite a lot of eyebrows.
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The anti-terror rally held last week saw everyone from French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu march together in support of anti-terrorism. However, the only person to attend the event from the US was the country’s ambassador to France, Jane Hartley.
A lot of questions were raised as to why the US could send only a low key official while the rest of the world leaders had attended the event. That the US Attorney General Eric Holder had been in Paris for supposed security meetings just a few hours ahead of the march, also set tongues wagging as to how the US preferred to keep its allies at a distance. Indeed, the criticism faced by the US afterwards forced the President Obama’s spokesperson to admit the error on the country’s part to not send any high level official for the rally.
It may be that the White House did not expect such a huge, global response for Paris’s anti-terror rally, and so was pretty casual in its effort to send over an official to attend it. Worse yet, it never would have expected the amount of backlash that came its ways for sending only the Ambassador to France when other countries participating in the rally had sent in their most prominent leaders.
The White House’s decision was criticized by the Republican presidential candidates for 2016, Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio. Even some officials from the Obama administration have expressed their dislike at the White House’s decision to not send a higher official to the event.
The President’s spokesperson cited elaborate security protocols that did not allow the U.S. President or Vice President to attend the event in Paris. Accordingly, each presidential or vice presidential overseas visit is planned months in advance, with the security teams arriving days before the President or Vice President arrives at the location.
However, not a lot of people are buying this story as they claim that emergency situations can allow the president to side step these protocols and visit a destination on short notice. Case in point: President Obama visiting South Africa last year for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. As such, why the President chose to skip the rally in Paris when he could have made the journey with a lighter security footprint is something that is raising quite a lot of unanswered questions.
Following a harrowing week filled with terror attacks, an anti-terror rally was held in Paris with the world leaders participating in it. While the most prominent leaders from several countries attended the event, the U.S. sent only a low level ambassador. This move to not send a higher official has attracted a lot of criticism for the U.S. as well as its president Barack Obama.