August 17, 2006


Lebanon crisis puts France back in the diplomatic spotlight (Katrin Bennhold and Dan Bilefsky, August 7, 2006, International Herald Tribune)

With the United States militarily stretched in Iraq and deeply unpopular in the Arab world, France has become a pre-eminent player in efforts to resolve the Lebanon crisis. [...]

Underlying France's desire to refashion itself as Middle East peacemaker are its colonial ties to Lebanon, which came under the direct control of France following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.

But beyond the emotional ties, there is also realpolitik. Its power diluted in the expanded EU, which France has traditionally used to project itself onto the world stage, the country is looking elsewhere to solidify its relevance.

French officials say the country has a historical imperative to help Lebanon and to counterbalance America's support of Israel - effectively to be a central player in a multipolar world, rather than one dominated by a single superpower.

"France wants to show that it is still a big player with a global vocation in foreign policy," said Daniel Keohane, international security expert at the London-based Center for European Reform. "It also wants to show that isn't just the U.S. that decides things in the world or the Middle East."

There also is a lesson for Europe in France's re-emergence on the diplomatic scene, Moïsi said. "If you want to count diplomatically," he said, "you have to count militarily."

France Throws U.N Peacekeeping Plans Into Disarray: Chirac Rebuffs Pleas to Make Major Contribution to Mission (Colum Lynch, August 17, 2006, Washington Post)
France has rebuffed U.N. pleas to make a major contribution to a peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, setting back international efforts to send a credible military force to the region to police a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah, according to U.N. and French officials.

French President Jacques Chirac instead committed Thursday to send a relatively small military engineering company of 200 soldiers...

How can you help but laugh at them?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 17, 2006 5:22 PM

So the C.E.S.M.'*s say that they are to assert a role in Lebanon to counterbalance the United States and Israel. So that is what they have sunk to: a foreign policy of ressentment--not a policy at all, actually, just a mental disorder.

*Cheese-eating surrender-monkeys, still a pretty good name for them, after all.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 17, 2006 6:00 PM

But they will provide their own white flags, won't they?

Posted by: obc at August 17, 2006 6:05 PM

That's another bull-patty story. France will commit to substantial numbers and the command role once the UN approves a clear, "robust" mandate. Which they will next week. Meanwhile, there's altogether too much weeping and gnashing of teeth going on.

Posted by: ghostcat at August 17, 2006 6:12 PM

Sorry, ghost - I don't think the UN will approve anything more robust than a spicy dinner menu.

If Chirac had any testosterone left, he would kill Assad. Then he could be a player.

'Nuff said.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 17, 2006 7:02 PM

The stuff I read the other day is that the UN thinks it will take a year before they will be there in force to handle the ceasefire. That just gives me such a feeling of security. What will Hezboolah be doing for the year it takes the UN to get there in force? Playing tiddlewinks?

And then we have Chirac becoming a big cheese in Lebanon with his whole 200 men of an engineering company. They will be out there with their calculators and slide rules and surveying equipment checking whether the buildings are straight or the road is in the right place. Wonderful!! Whatever did we do to get allies lke this.

Posted by: dick at August 17, 2006 9:18 PM

"we have Chirac becoming a big cheese in Lebanon with his whole 200 men of an engineering company" How can you forget the 10 officers to be sent to command the UNIFAIL? They like to command, don't they?
The French sent the Jews to camps before they were ordered to do so by the Nazis. They sold out the Jews again by pretending to be helpful. Their goal was to save the Hezbos. They really don't like the Jews, don't they?

Posted by: ic at August 18, 2006 2:32 AM

I remember the Orphans of Lyon and literally cringe whenever I hear French spoken.

Posted by: erp at August 18, 2006 8:13 AM