‘Our oldest ally’ upends ‘special relationship’


thesun“Our oldest ally.”

With three little words, Secretary of State John Kerry caused hand-wringing in Britain and batted eyelashes in France.

Kerry used the phrase to describe France while talking of his determination to strike Syria despite the British parliament voting against taking military action.

In Britain, the phrase rankled the Daily Mail (“Kerry … snubs humiliated British“) and The Telegraph (“Kerry delivers diplomatic slap in the face to Britain“).

The Guardian fretted that the U.S.-French “coalition a deux looks set to be dwarfed by a far larger coalition of the unwilling and nervous. The vote in the U.K. parliament robs Washington of its most loyal and capable military partner.”

The Sun, upset by the parliament’s rejection of a military operation, ran a faux obituary of the special relationship between the U.S. and Britain.

But back to Kerry’s three little words.
France 24, a global news channel, was thrilled with them, saying that “Washington’s warm words” were “a significant turnaround from the hostility of a decade ago, when France refused to back the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.”
Exactly when was the last time the U.S. and its “oldest ally” conducted a joint military operation?

“The two nations have not gone after a target alone together since the War of Independence … the final decisive victory at Yorktown, Va.,” Matt Vasilogambros writes in the National Journal.

A Franco-U.S. offensive alliance in Syria would be a “unique situation” in modern times, Bruno Tertrais of the Foundation of Strategic Research, tells AFP.

“The Americans and the French have worked together on the frontline in the past as in Lebanon in the ’80s and ’90s, but I don’t recollect an offensive coalition comprising the Americans and the French but not the British.”