Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sarkozy at the UN

At the UN, Sarkozy said this:

The position of France is this: no nuclear weapon for Iran, the arsenal of sanctions to convince them, negotiation, discussion, firmness.

These are words that Chirac might have uttered in 2002-3 with respect to Iraq. Yet many people are convinced that there has been a fundamental shift in French foreign policy, an "alignment" with the United States. To be sure, the framing of the language of sanctions, negotiation, and firmness has changed, but what can we say beyond this? The ambiguity, I submit, is substantial, despite Kouchner's injudicious reference to preparations for war. Several regular commentators seem to discern a clearer picture than I do of Sarkozy's intentions. I hope they will expand their views in the comments. I look forward to being persuaded.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The picture as I see it :
Sarkozy sincerely believes that if nothing moves, GWB is determined not to leave the iranian issue pending, one way or another, when he leaves office. He is also aware that GWB is not a great believer in UN sanctions...

Therefore the only chance to avoid one of the disasters( or both) that Sarkozy described as an iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran, is to muster support for sanctions that really bite, while, at the same time, offering to cooperate with Iran on a
variety of subjects, if and when they step back from the brink.

New UN sanctions are hard to get because of Russian and Chinese protection of Iran. European sanctions are also difficult. Germany is looking at its short term commercial interests in Iran.

The whole purpose of Sarkozy is to make his counterparts understand that the status quo is not an option, and that refusing sanctions is in fact playing right into the hands of the warmongers, giving them a good excuse to say :" we told you so, persasion does not work".

Does this make sense to you ? it does to me...

Anonymous said...

I find Anonymous's comments persuasive here, especially since I think both Sarkozy's and Kouchner's comments have been taken out of context. Both of them made it clear that "war" was a final resort that they wanted to avoid, chiefly through diplomatic and/or economic means. Invoking the specter of war is one way of emphasizing that some other solution is urgent. While I think you (Art) are right that this can be a dangerous game, can anyone rule out the possibility that war might have to resorted to if in fact Iran was about to develop or had already developed nuclear arms and used them to threaten other countries?

Unknown said...

To paraphrase the discussion, Steve and Anonymous agree that when Sarkozy says "an Iranian nuclear weapon is unacceptable to France," this is, in the first instance, a bluff, intended to rally other European countries around tough sanctions in the hope of deterring Iran; but, in the last instance, a true statement, since, as Steve argues, if Iran does obtain a bomb, "war might have to be resorted to." I agree with the first part of this but question the second. Before reaching a conclusion, please read Gen. Abizaid:
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jb1Wd-LnIH2JUQubKYKyj1HxPoJw
Abizaid was right to warn that the invasion of Iraq would end in debacle, so it is worth considering whether he might be right that even a nuclear-armed Iran is "deterrable." Clearly, Bush, and more especially Cheney, believe otherwise and would argue that the nexus of Iran with various terror groups makes this option unacceptable and grounds for preventive war. The question is whether Sarkozy's use of the word "unacceptable" coincides with this American analysis. To me, this is unclear, and the question of what steps follow for France if the "unacceptable" becomes reality remains unanswered. Otherwise I agree with the analysis given by anonymous. But I'd still like to hear from others on this question.

Anonymous said...

If your question is :" does unacceptable means that Sarkozy is ready to participate in a war if sanctions fail ? " my answer is no.

He will not veto an American intervention, but no more...

Anonymous said...

Anyone who saw the TV of Kouchner's comment saw that his use of the word war was in response to being pushed to specify by a journalist interviewer what it meant to go to the end of his thought, which he would have preferred to leave ambiguous. His reply, "mais le guerre, monsieur..." (I think that's exact) seemed to me a kind of Gaullist, and/or other classic French posturing. - it just popped out. In other words, Kouchner is, and remains,a loose cannon. He may not last very long in the job unless he becomes evermore Sarkozy's domestic poodle, one reason being (as with other Socialists) that he's 67 years old and this is it for him.

I agree that Sarkozy has no intention of going to war against Iran. It is also highly unlikely that Bush will go to war, even in the limited sense of bombing and even, I believe, if Israel would join it, which I doubt also. Think of Iran's likely reaction, including military. I don't agree that Bush is unwilling to leave the Iran problem hanging. Would he really want to be responsible for provoking an even worse disaster in that region? On the substance as well as in terms of his legacy, I think not. I believe the Iran nuclear issue will go on for quite a while, clouded in complexity and ambiguity (including about actual production of weapons themselves) rather than some kind of clear resolution.