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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

France Is Hesitant About Deploying To Lebanon

The BBC is reporting that France is beginning to wonder what it got itself into:

The war in Lebanon has given France the chance to shine again on the world stage.

Many see the French as natural mediators because of the strong historical ties between the two countries.

France's role in helping to negotiate the UN resolution allowed it to continue mending its relations with the US after the past divisions over Iraq.

President Jacques Chirac was able to deflect attention from domestic problems by focussing on the conflict in his traditional Bastille Day interview. ...

... French troops have been called upon to form the backbone of the strengthened UN force in southern Lebanon.

Speaking in Beirut, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said France was ready to participate as long as the Lebanese army was deployed in southern Lebanon beforehand.

A survey for the newspaper La Croix found that seven French people out of ten supported the deployment of an international force. However only a small majority - 53% - were in favour of the French military getting involved. ...

... French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie voiced concern about deploying troops without clearly defined goals.

"France wants the mission's rules of engagement to be clear and it to have real means," she told French TV.

"Sadly, all too often, the United Nations forces don't have the power that they asked for."
The main political parties share such reservations.

Jacques Myard, an MP in France's governing UMP party and a member of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, told the BBC the last UN resolution did not make it clear how France can act.

"I know that a lot of military, high-ranking officials in France are reluctant if this mandate is not very precise," he said.

The opposition socialists have also warned that "extreme vigilance" is needed, saying the UN resolution does nothing to address the conditions necessary for a political agreement that would guarantee the security of peacekeeping forces.

Above all, France wants to avoid a situation where its own soldiers find themselves having to disarm Hezbollah fighters.

In 1983, 58 French parachutists were killed in Beirut when the building in which they were staying was blown up. They too had been part of a multinational peacekeeping force.
France has been trying to obtain guarantees from the Lebanese government, Hezbollah and Israel. It does not want its troops to be powerless observers.

But nor does it want to get dragged into taking part in a dangerous and potentially disastrous conflict.

What is this? A speak first, and think second sort of situation for the French? What part of "international peacekeeping force" do they not understand. Or is this just bluster from them because we all know that UN forces like this are rarely told to pull a trigger, but they want to sound concerned? I can honestly say that if the French thought that this was going to be more like a vacation, then they are far more obtuse than we thought.

Hello? There was a war going on there for about a month. A lot of people were getting hurt and killed--on both sides. This was not a minor skirmish; towns are not bombed by the IAF over skirmishes. This was everything that Israel could muster (under the dovish leadership of Ehud Olmert), and even that lackadaisical effort was still brutal on Lebanon.

So if the French think they are going to skate on this, they should think again. But this also goes to the United Nations, as well. What are the goals of the peacekeeping force. Do they have the approval to disarm Hezbollah? Will they be the ones forced to do it now that the Lebanese government has stated they will not do that, nor will their military? What are the parameters these people are going to be made to operate under while there? Specificity is required for those who have volunteered to go into Lebanon, and that is a commodity that no one seems to have.

The only peep heard out of the United Nations since this resolution was adopted was a letter sent to both Israel and Lebanon from Kofi Annan. That letter stipulated that neither side could directly engage the other unless it was deemed in self-defense. The point is in the letter is to inform them that they should not respond to anything "provocative," but rather a clear-cut threat to their lives. Oh yes, a lovely strategy there Mr. Annan. And it is one that will end in utter failure.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel is a victim of their politicians. Doesn't that sound familiar! We will rue the day the "peace" agreement was signed. I say this for a number of reasons, the UN and France being at the top of the
list. Then there's Iran and Syria and hezbollah. Iran and Syria are broadcasting to the muslim world that hezbollah beat Israel. All jihad religious groups will take believe this and we expect much more activities. Hamas seems to have been forgotten but they aren't and hezbollah is "helping" them. To the terrorist, the agreement is a sign that we are weak. The terrorists are great believers in signs. The terrorist and their supporters welcome Code Pink and Cindy Sheehan. They reinforce that we are weak. Passports should never been issued to them. Rawriter

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