The events that have transpired in Paris in the last 24 hours leave the civilized world stunned. It served no purpose, it advanced no cause. It will not change French government policy in Syria or in the Middle East. It was simply an act of murder carried out on a mass scale, an act of murder designed to do nothing more than instill fear and terror in the inhabitants of Paris; to remind them that even the most mundane of activities could at any time be transformed into a killing field of violence and death.
At some point, in the next week or so, France will honor and remember the innocent victims of this latest terrorist atrocity. The French will march down the Champs d' Elysees in a show of solidarity, they will march through the streets of Paris to show their defiance to those who would use fear and death to terrorize the City of Lights. The President of France will be there in the front line, flanked by his cabinet and by the collected political leaders of Europe. This time the president of the United States, Barack Obama needs to be there too, in the front line, next to the president of France, next to the assembled leaders of Europe to underscore that the civilized world will not be intimidated by violence and terror.
We have had our differences with France and with its governments. Yet the fact remains that France is America's first and oldest ally. Without France there would not be a United States just as without the United States there would not be a modern France. French and American soldiers have fought shoulder to shoulder against tyranny and barbarism, they have shed blood on the same battlefields, and in their darkest hours come to each other's aid. This is a friendship, its rocky moments notwithstanding, that has been forged over almost two and a half centuries, tested by adversity, renewed by mutual sacrifice, steeled in the cauldron of war.
The gravity of the moment demands more than just another appearance by an American performing artist, or the token representation of a Cabinet Secretary or even the Vice President of the United States. It demands nothing less than the president of the United States standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the elected leaders of the free world declaring that the free people of the world will not be intimidated by terrorism or by the death and violence that it has unleashed.
Sadly, what happened in Paris is not the end but the beginning of what promises to be a new age of barbarism that will grip Europe, North America and the rest of the civilized world. Perhaps in time the sheer number of such incidents will make us numb to their horror, seemingly indifferent to yet another act of all too familiar barbarity. Make no mistake, however, what happened in Paris is just another opening salvo in a war against Western culture, its beliefs, and its institutions. This is more than just an act of mass murder, it is a renewed declaration of war against the civilized world and its free people; it is an act of war against the very essence of Western civilization.
It is imperative that the free peoples of the world stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder. It is time that their governments put aside their petty differences and declare their mutual solidarity. It is time that we all declare unhesitatingly that in the face of barbarism there is more that unites us than that which divides us. It is time for the leader of the free world to demonstrate unequivocally that he is ready, willing and able to lead the civilized world in standing up to this monstrous evil. It is time for President Barack Obama to go to Paris.