Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Mistake or a Bigger Plan?

Before the French sent their rubber craft squad into Lebanon, I was asked during a lunch meeting if the French military was capable of leading and keeping the peace in Lebanon under the auspices of the U.N. ceasefire. At that time, the initial word on the cease-fire was just hitting the streets and the French were talking about sending 7500 soldiers to Lebanon.

I answered in the affirmative. In the recesses of my mind I remembered training with the French as a young Lieutenant on a deployment somewhere to the Mediterranean. I remembered capable soldiers, despite all the “cheese eating surrender monkey” sarcasm many of us have pummeled them with. The capability of a military can differ from the will of a nation, our own country included. I was giving them the benefit of that doubt.

In my mind, the answer was “yes, their military is capable of keeping the peace, but it’s likely that neither their country nor the U.N. possesses the will to execute the mission as needed.” But, I forayed into an atypical political answer and have just about had to eat my words along with the prime rib sandwich I had that day.

The French drug their feet until this last week, trying to find every reason to send as few troops as possible to Lebanon. They did so despite their relationship with Lebanon. They did so despite their juvenile tantrums insisting that others recognize them as a leader in world affairs. They did so despite their insistence upon a U.N. resolution, forcing themselves upon the international community. They did so despite their pledge to lead the way with troops as a peacekeeping force.

They did so until Italy anted up a large contingent of peacekeepers. This left France looking like the spoiled kid who threw a fit to get his way, but when he finally did, he reneged on his promises of good behavior. The French were then forced to commit more troops.

I hope that not only our country, but others remember how the French behaved through the whole process. Insisting upon leading, forcing themselves upon others, and making promises, but then trying to back out when the time came to “put up or shut up.”

The U.N. still looks like a dog chasing its tail, squabbling over rules of engagement, working to scrounge together a peace-keeping force, refusing to enable the disarmament of Hezbollah, and condemning the Israeli’s but not the terrorists. All signs point to the likelihood of this being another failed action of the U.N.

For our sake, I hope this wasn’t something bungled by Condoleezza Rice. If she took the French or the U.N. at their word, she was more trusting than she should have been. My hope is that her actions were part of a larger, long-term plan.
The French proved their intentions to not let other countries act in their own best interest during the run-up to the Iraq war.

The U.N. has proven itself, time and again, to be an ineffective organization, long on debate, short on action; a fruitless organization which possesses an ever growing track record of failure to act on matters of substance.

Surely the Secretary Rice was aware of these attributes of our “allies” before agreeing to the terms of the cease fire. How could she not be? Their records and the evidence are extensive and unmistakable.

If that’s the case, the option left is that of her actions being part of a bigger plan.

Are we going along with the U.N. (and the anti-American EU countries) in matters such as Lebanon to establish a better position when the time comes to act against Iran or North Korea? Most likely, we alone, or with a few allies, will have to act against those countries before they do real damage.

The U.N. will most likely exude ineffectiveness and incompetence dealing with them. The unwillingness of others to take action against such openly hostile regimes, but insistence upon talking the subject in circles is characteristic of the impotence we should expect from the U.N. with regards to Iran and North Korea.

As such, Condoleezza Rice may simply be playing along for now, so that when the time comes our nation can take the position of: “We’ve tried every diplomatic avenue, but now we have to act. We’ve tried working within the realm of the U.N. to resolve the matter. The U.N.’s record is replete with failing to act and of failed actions, so we must act with our handful of allies, both for our security and international stability.”

Some may argue that’s the position and path we took with regard to Iraq and look where that’s led us, that aspect of the Bush doctrine is a failure.

But in this case, her actions may very well be positioning and leverage, not just for this President, but for the next as well. The resolutions to the problems with Iran and North Korea are not likely to happen through the diplomatic channels in the near future, or ever, and her actions may yet prove to be invaluable; unless of course we are forced to act after it’s too late.

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