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...
France did little to dampen expectations that it would play a far more ambitious peacekeeping role as it joined the United States in fashioning agreement on a resolution authorizing the force...
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, held out hope that France would reconsider. "I'm not sure France has made up its mind," Gillerman said in an interview. "There were a lot of expectations the French would actually lead this thing and a lot of countries are waiting to see what France does."
It was entirely logical to think the French would play a large role in stabilizing southern Lebanon. Afterall, they acted like a superpower in negotiations and looked poised to be a responsible mediator. Chirac's refusal to send a robust force gives the impression that France is nothing more than a paper tiger, unwilling to take any practical risks. Other countries looked to France for leadership, and now they essentially fail the region. Sending a paultry engineering company tells the world that France doesn't merit the status it so often demands.
France has received alot of kudos for standing up to American bullying. However, this fact doesn't detract from my belief that France is almost always mostly bluster, that would rather talk for eternity, instead of achieving any real results. France's latest decision to drop the ball in Lebanon serves as another example that the world can't look to Chirac for any leadership, besides convenient rhetoric. Put up or shut up- this is very disappointing.
Cork2Toronto has a completely different interpretation. I also cross-posted this entry at Daily Kos, which generated a spirited debate.