I never defend the UN, but I have in the past defended the French. And I had hopes for Condoleezza Rice.
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 17 — 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 in a reinforced U.N. peacekeeping mission that is expected to grow to 15,000 strong and that will help Lebanon police a demilitarized zone in southern Lebanon. He also said that a force of 1,700 French troops and crew stationed in ships off the coast of Lebanon could be sent in to help the U.N. force during a crisis.
The French decision, which was first reported today in the Paris daily Le Monde, has thrown U.N. military planning into disarray on the eve of a major international meeting this afternoon of potential contributors to a U.N. force. It also seriously complicates U.N. efforts to get a vanguard force of peacekeepers from powerful European countries within the next two weeks.
Senior U.N. peacekeeping officials said they had hoped that a commitment to have French troops form the “backbone” of the U.N. peacekeeping mission would spur other countries to join.
The UN had hoped? Had hoped? This wasn’t worked out in advance? The UN’s diplomats, the French and Condoleezza Rice and John Bolton didn’t have this signed, sealed and delivered? Are you f—ing with me? We stopped this war and we didn’t even have a plan in place for a peacekeeping force? Is that possible? Is everyone involved in this a liar, a coward or an imbecile? (You can choose more than one.)
They hoped? And on that basis they imposed a defeat on the Israelis and salvaged Hezbollah? I mean, honest to God, as low as my expectations are, this is quite simply incredible.
If the French are backing out of a done deal then Condi needs to come out and say it publicly. Otherwise she really needs to quit. Either the French are acting like backstabbing liars, or our State Department is setting a new low for incompetence. It’s one or the other.
Cross-posted from Sideways Mencken.