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By David Bachelor, PhD
Pastor, Pearsall 1st Methodist Church
It does not often occur that a story in the headlines has never happened before, thus making it truly “new” (and therefore “news”), but such was the case last week. The new thing was France recalled her ambassador to the United States. Our oldest ally has never taken this step before, which is amazing considering the twists and turns in our 245-year relationship. As Texans, we can take a perverse pride that the Republic of Texas preceded the United Sates in experiencing this sanction by 180 years. In the August 25th edition of the Texas Standard there was a story about how, in 1841, France’s representative to Texas broke off relations because some Texas hogs trashed the Frenchman’s garden (Of course it had to be hogs). It was not hogs that offended France in this week’s headlines.
Texas News Today says France recalled her ambassador because of a “brutal, unexpected, unexplained breach of contract and relationship.” These are the words of French Supreme Diplomat Le Dorian describing his government’s opinion of the announcement that the U.S. would be selling Australia a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Reuters noted that the U.S. and Australian submarine arrangement included the cancellation of a $40 billion deal for Australia to purchase French-designed submarines for the land down under. The Financial Times notes “Withdrawing ambassadors is a highly unusual protest among allies and is usually reserved for use against states deemed to have taken hostile or unacceptable actions that affect the nation making the protest.” A White House official responded to France’s reaction, “The United States regrets France’s decision to recall its ambassador from Washington and will continue to be engaged in the coming days to resolve differences between the two countries.”
Tiffs between allies are also part of the legacy of God’s people. During the reign of King David, a rift occurred between Israel and the kingdom of the Ammonites. The source of the schism was the reaction King Hanun of Ammon had to a delegation King David sent to the Ammonites after the death of their previous king. Hanun was convinced Israel’s delegation was sent as a precursor to invasion. Instead of receiving Israel’s legates, “Hanun took David’s servants and shaved off half their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle, to their buttocks, and sent them away” (2 Sam 10:4). The Israelite ambassadors were so humiliated David had them quarantine in Jericho until their beards grew back and they put on new clothes (2 Sam 10:5). This breakdown in relations led Ammon to make alliances with other nations and war broke out between Ammon and Israel. In the end, Ammon and her new allies were defeated by Israel.
Let us hope the submarine deal does not lead to war or even a prolonged period when the U.S. has its behind hanging out. There are enough perils in the world without our oldest ally being one of them.