- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2013

In laying out the case for military strikes on Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday had praise for the French, who he called “our oldest ally,” but snubbed any mention of the British, who have long believed they enjoyed a “special relationship” with the U.S.

Mr. Kerry was trying to rally world support for retaliatory strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and pointing to other nations that have concluded troops loyal to the Assad government used chemical weapons last week.

Mr. Kerry cited Australia, Turkey and the Arab League — as well as the French.

“Our oldest ally, the French, said the regime, quote, ‘committed this vile action, and it is an outrage to use weapons that the community has banned for the last 90 years in all international conventions,’ ” Mr. Kerry said.

Absent from his remarks was any acknowledgement of Britain. On Thursday, the British Parliament voted against military action, questioning the value of the evidence of chemical weapons use.

In his 2004 presidential campaign Mr. Kerry was mocked by an anonymous Bush aide who said the then-senator “looks French.” Coming at a time when France opposed U.S. action in Iraq, the jibe set off a slew of reporting about Mr. Kerry’s ties to the country, including his boyhood summer vacations in Brittany and the fact that he learned French while attending boarding school in Switzerland.

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America’s history with France has been complex. The colonies fought the French in what is known in America as the French and Indian War, but France later sided with the colonists, providing critical aid that helped defeat the British in the Revolutionary War.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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