French talk tough on Iran, but is this really the time?

By | September 18, 2007

The French don’t seem to be good at a lot of things. Making cars is one of them. Now France is a beautiful country, but that is almost where it ends. And now, France has another feather added to its infamous cap. France has now proven beyond doubt, that it is no good at international politics. France has now publicly announced that its citizens should be ready to go to war with Iran, should Iran continue with its nuclear enrichment program.

The French foreign minister said,

“We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war.”

Now there is nothing new for the world to see USA flex its muscles this way. There have been times when the US has spoken tough, and acted tough too. The most recent example stands in the form of a ruined country. But America has the military power to talk tough. An American aircraft carrier typically has enough Army, Navy and Air Force on it to launch a dedicated strike on its own. And typically, carriers float around in carrier groups. So for the US to flex its biceps, is understood. They can act the threat if they want to.

France, on the other hand, would not really want to do what its foreign minister has so proudly proclaimed. With a small military force, trying to attack Iran would not make a lot of sense, politically or otherwise.

Let us go a step back and put a thought to why France, the entire Europe and the US is opposing the nuclear advances that Iran is making. Iran started its nuclear program by making centrifuges, that purify Uranium. This was the first step that peeved the world. A potent anti-west power would have in its hands one of the most potent weapons of destruction, a nuclear device. Since the time of Ayatolla Khomeini, Iran has not been a very country favored by the west, esp. America. Most Iranians would view America as its biggest enemy, and it is wise for America to think that a nuclear device in the hands of such a country could prove to be a direct threat.

After assuring the world that its nuclear advances were purely for civilian purposes, and would be used to quench an ever increasing thirst for electricity, Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to enter and inspect its nuclear facilities. This was more of a confidence building measure, as this was the time when US was advancing in Iraq. Iran most certainly did not want the humvees and F-32s headed its way. So Iran played good.

But as time passed by, Iran’s President got more and more vocal. Iran wanted its nuclear power in the hands of its military. Which is when the problem started.

Though I wonder, why is France preparing its people for war? Even though the IAEA has sought to pacify the situation by having entered into an agreement with Iran. And Iran has also repeated its commitment to not making a nuclear device. Iran wants to make electricity out of uranium, the IAEA seems to believe Iran. Why does France have a problem with this?

Luckily, Iran has the support of Russia in the United Nations security council. Russia, with its veto power would stop any international attempt at a military strike or further sanctions on Iran. So a strike cannot be enacted via the UN. France alone would not send its military into Iran to get killed. They will look at NATO support. I am sure that other NATO members will be wary to attack Iran. They have seen the blunder of Iraq. An invasion that seemed to be a noble idea turning into an international farce.

France, in this announcement, would be piggy-backing on the US for support. But the French have possibly forgotten that with a presidential election scheduled in 2008 and worries of slow economic growth in the coming fiscal year, America has a lot at home to take care of. Would France have the guts to go forward with this alone?

They probably would not. And France must remember that the recent crisis was first reported by BNP Paribas, a French bank. Oil prices are at an all time high, there are more short term and long term economic growth worries projected from the US. We now stand looking at another global economic slowdown in the next one or two years. War talk is not going to do any good. What economies around the world need are confidence building measures, especially with oil & natural gas producing countries like Iran. Only then would there be a little sense of stability in the current politico-economic situation.

France should probably stick to making wines. Drinking too much of it, and then crying war is probably not the best thing to do. Because when the wine wears off, it will be one hell of a hangover for the French.

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