Friday, August 25, 2006

Frog march 

Suddenly those ambiguous rules of engagement cleared right up. France has added a zero; instead of sending 200 soldiers to Lebanon, it will now send 2,000. The reason given for this in the press account is that France was recognizing that it had to close the gap between its promises and its actions.

Dominique Moisi, an analyst with France's Institute for International Relations, said France — in announcing a larger force — had felt the "international and national outrage at the contradiction between the French promises and what the French delivered."

"At some point, the French realized they had gone too far by doing too little," he said. "It is a face-saving gesture."

Oh, it is a face-saving gesture, but not because of a "contradiction." The France of Jacques Chirac has never been reluctant to ignore its own easily-made, easily-broken "pie crust" promises. We all know the real reason that Chirac stepped to the plate: On Monday, Italy volunteered to command the United Nations force in Lebanon. Breaking a promise is easy. France living with having been faced by the Italian army? C'est impossible.

Indeed, it is enough to make you wonder whether Romano Prodi's gesture was not a ploy from the get-go. "Hey Jacques, are you chicken?" "Well, if you put it that way, non."


By Blogger Charlottesvillain, at Fri Aug 25, 09:33:00 AM:

In my mind this raises an intriguing question about the whole operation: which of these two armies do you think will have better MREs? Do the French cram frois gras and brie in little plastic envelopes for their boys at the front? Do the Italians open sealed containers of squid ink pasta with truffle sauce? Or do they all get chili mac and beef stew like our boys?  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Aug 25, 10:10:00 AM:

The French MREs are probably excellent. I base this on two data points. First, in my experience French box lunches brought into conference rooms during business meetings are excellent, far better than anything one would have in the United States. If a country can make an excellent box lunch, it can also make an excellent MRE. Second, there is an instructive story from the Berlin airlift. At a time when Berliners were suffering from calorie deficits and the Western powers were moving heaven and earth to get enough basic supplies into Berlin through the air corridors, American soldiers were appalled to learn that the French were flying in wine for their troops. In response, the French government produced a "white paper" that purported to show that wine was "essential to the constitution of a Frenchman." Draw whatever conclusions you will from that experience, but I believe it supports the speculation that French soldiers have better MREs than the Americans.  

By Blogger Fabio, at Fri Aug 25, 01:51:00 PM:

Wherever and whenever they can, Italian soldiers cook a big pan of pasta, possibly with a fresh-made tomato sauce.

I think that Prodi went along these lines: "See, we are in Lebanon too! Italy is important on the world scene! And even without following America!".  

By Blogger Counter Trey, at Fri Aug 25, 02:39:00 PM:

This might be a clue for the change of heart: I just saw an auction on Ebay for a French military rifle. The description was:

"Pristine condition; never shot; dropped once."  

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