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The Useless French

by @ 7:19 pm on August 17, 2006. Filed under France, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Syria

Whatever credibility France might have had as a serious player in world affairs is slowly dwindling away. Now, the French may be on the verge of destroying the very Middle East peace plan they helped put forward:

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 17 — 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 to serve in a reinforced U.N. peacekeeping mission that is expected to grow to 15,000 strong and that will help Lebanon police a demilitarized zone in southern Lebanon. He also said that a force of 1,700 French troops and crew stationed in ships off the coast of Lebanon could be sent in to help the U.N. force during a crisis.

The French decision, which was first reported today in the Paris daily Le Monde, has thrown U.N. military planning into disarray on the eve of a major international meeting this afternoon of potential contributors to a U.N. force. It also seriously complicates U.N. efforts to get a vanguard force of peacekeepers from powerful European countries within the next two weeks.

And why would they do this ? One possibility is that they’re cowards:

A French military source told Le Monde that the decision was also prompted by the government’s anxiety over serving under U.N. command, citing the loss of some 84 French troops in the U.N. mission in the early 1990s in Bosnia and the seizure of French peacekeepers of hostages. The source also cited “fears of reprisals from Syria or Iran.

Napoleon Bonaparte must be turning over in his grave.

James Joyner has the best post title on this one: France Pre-Surrenders in Lebanon

And McQ offers this thought:

France. If they didn?t exist, you?d have to make them up … if for no other reason than comic relief. Jimmy Carter ought to run for President there … they?d love him.

Heh. They just might.

And, finally, from Kevin Drum:

Let’s summarize: Chirac personally rammed through the ceasefire resolution; insisted that it call for a UN force; did everything he could to imply that France would contribute several thousand combat troops; but in the end is only willing to stand up a 200-man military engineering company. Because Hezbollah might shoot back. And yet he still wants France to command the overall force.

Ignore the fact that the French have lost pretty much every war they’ve fought since 1870 and it actually makes sense in a twisted way.

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