By Keith Barnes
Politico, an American news organization, published an article on November 20 entitled “Europe At War,” in reference to a recent declaration by the current French President François Hollande that ISIL’s attack against the French state was “an act of war.”
Hollande subsequently vowed to “destroy ISIL,” commenting from within the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.
In May, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for Europe to take on its responsibilities concerning terrorism, in response to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s call for a European Army to combat global challenges in a united fashion.
According to Le Figaro, Valls stated, “Europe has an army, it’s France’s.”
To consider the scenario from that perspective is to look at France’s engagement in a number of conflicts abroad.
This includes Mali, a former French colony hosting hundreds out of the three thousand-strong force taking part in France’s Operation Serval, reports Time Magazine.
There is also the Central African Republic, where France was forced to intervene with hundreds of troops to stop a possible humanitarian crisis between Christians and Muslims, resulting in nearly two thousand dead, according to Reuters.
These conflicts, despite being a major issue in and of themselves, did not necessarily concern the rest of Europe until the attacks in Paris at Stade de France and the Bataclan festival.
After the attacks, France invoked the little-known Article 42.7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which calls upon other European Union member states to aid France in whatever way possible.
Deployments may soon be seen from different European Union member states to relieve the French troops of their duties in Africa, so that troops can then be redirected to the campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Despite falling from the European scope of view, there also remains the war in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where separatists still fight for their independence and possibly for a similar fate as Crimea which, after a year of annexation, still has yet to reap the rewards touted by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
According to the New York Times, a recent meeting between the Russian and French presidents saw matters of state quickly overshadowed by discussions regarding the Russian bombing campaigns against enemies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom France condemns.
As Europe lunges from crisis to crisis, the recent downing of a Russian fighter jet by NATO member Turkey, resulting in the death of a Russian pilot, has sparked a diplomatic firestorm across not only Europe but also all of NATO, as treaty obligations for mutual defense keep the United States and a majority of European Union members on their toes.