Find the Stiletto

Sunday, July 30, 2006
From a comment by Wretchard at Belmont Club
The French ceasefire proposal, according to the Jerusalem Post has the following stipulations:

The proposal stresses the need "to create the conditions for a permanent cease-fire and a lasting solution to the current crisis between Israel and Lebanon." It emphasizes the need to end the escalating violence, but also "to address urgently the root causes that have given rise to the current crisis.

The conditions for a permanent cease-fire include a buffer zone stretching from the Blue Line - the UN-demarcated boundary that Israel withdrew behind in 2000 - to the Litani River, which was the northern border of Israel's occupation of Lebanon in 1982.

The buffer zone would be "free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Lebanese armed and security forces and of UN-mandated international forces," the draft says.

These are the preconditions for the deployment of a French-led international force. If the French are unwilling to sweep the Hezbollah out, the only conclusion is that France will await a battlefield result which creates those conditions. In other words, it's a "green light" tricked out as a stoplight. It is effectively a Security Council mandate to sweep out Hezbollah to the Litani River.
Nasrallah can have a ceasefire at this price. It's also a way of saying 'we want peace' but in practice say 'you are authorized to wage war to this limit'.

But consider, if Hezbollah gives up its Southen Lebanon stronghold it becomes vastly weakened with respect to its internal rivals. It loses face with its former constituents. It's a defeat of monumental proportions for Hezbollah. Narallah can of course try to spin it, but that ball will hardly rotate.

Now Nasrallah's own megalomanic rhetoric will work against him. He has raised expectations in the Arab street so that to withdraw voluntarily or be driven ignominiously north of the Litani will be a humiliation. Somebody give him a bottle of whiskey and cocked automatic. Either that or he should resolve to reject the ceasefire and fight on.
If I were to write a poem concerning France I believe that I would begin it with:

"How do I mistrust thee?
Let me count the ways. ..."

I consider Iran to be a client of France and I believe that French business interests have been and still are very concerned with maintaining that relationship. There can be no peace in the ME until regime change is effected in Iran and France would not be happy with any change....

Unless... do you suppose that a deal has been cut that guarantees French primacy in dealing with the Iranian government which will follow the current regime? If so, what has Russia been promised?

And why do I feel as if it's 1885 and 'The Great Game' is being played at fever pitch.


terrye said...


I really don't trust the French either, but I do not think that the current state of affairs is in their long term interests either. And I think they know that.

Besides we are always saying the Europeans should step up to the plate and when they do we say we do not want them anywhere near the plate.

I will be honest. I do think the French have a long history of doing business with Tehran, whoever happens to be running the place..but I am not sure the mullahs are anyone's clients.

chuck said...

France does love its old colonies and mandates, so much so that it can hardly bear to say goodbye. That said, I don't see Iran as a client of France, the old gamers were Russia and Britain. Under a new government I expect the US to have the most influence, which would put us at the center of a Shiite region extending from Iraq to western Afghanistan. Hmmm.

The return of the great game might not be such a bad thing. The region hasn't been doing all that well on its own. Already things are very different with the US installed in Iraq. The same old same old of the last thirty years is beginning to crack. The area has been shaken if not stirred. How it will all go down is anyone's guess.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

I doubt that the French are acting in their own long-term interests. I also doubt that Iran is a client-state of France. I have heard that the Chinese are selling advanced missile technology to Iran.

I think the reality is that the post-World War II world with the Anglo-Saxon nations building a new peaceful and prosperous world under their authority—both moral and military—is starting to crack. We simply have too many enemies out there who think it's time for a change. And from Venezuela to North Korea they are all starting to gather together to kill us.

I don't think it's 1885. I'm thinking more like 1905. And we're all asleep.

Syl said...

Don't forget that France has been involved with Lebanon almost forever and they were instrumental in helping to get Syria out last year.

Doesn't surprise me a bit that they're front and center here and I don't think France wants Iran to have nukes any more than we do.

What France gets out of this is more prestige with the Arab world..not the Persians.

terrye said...


I don't think they want to kill us, they just want to control us. Make us behave. They lose too much money if they kill us.

Peter UK said...

A couple of thoughts spring to mind.One somebody has shown the French OFF documents or France has seem the writing on the wall,that Hezbollah's defeat by Israel puts the Lebanon i the US sphere of influence,that if the Middle East is to be reshaped France should have a part in it.

Rick Ballard said...

I erred in the use of "client state" to describe France's relationship with Iran. The EU is Iran's largest trading partner (with Japan second)but that doesn't make them a French client state in the way that the Ivory Coast is.

Aside from that, does the cease fire proposal appear workable in the manner described by Wretchard? If the Israeli's sweep to the Litani will the Hezzies stay out after Israel makes the turnover and if they do not will France be willing to suppress them?

Skookumchuk said...

Peter UK:

One somebody has shown the French OFF documents or France has seen the writing on the wall...

I have always felt that the major reason we haven't seen more documents is precisely due to the former - we've shown them the evidence and told France to behave.

Rick Ballard said...


I agree with the blackmail scenario. I'm not sure how long it will last but it will definitely extend beyond Chirac's tenure due to involvement of French business interests in the entire sordid scheme. I keep wondering if the A350 fiasco is going to be the bursting bubble that destroys the EU's economic illusion.

Skookumchuk said...


The French, as ever conscious of la gloire, have this fascination with the mega-project (Concorde, TGV, nuclear aircraft carriers, etc.) that exists for political, as opposed to purely economic reasons. The EU also shares this to some degree.

I doubt if the A350 and A380 problems are enough to turn this around.

CF said...

I think that comment was the quote of the day--

From the NYT of all places--a peek inside Iran:

"No matter how this conflict is resolved, Iranian officials already see their strategic military strength diminished, .....

“This was God’s gift to Israel,” said Nasser Hadian, a political science professor at Tehran University and an expert in Iranian foreign policy. “Hezbollah gave them the golden opportunity to attack.” ....

“If Israel attacked us tomorrow, what are we going to do?” he said."

Remember their economy is in no great shakes either and the streets are full of unemployed young people furious at the Mullahs before this Hezbollah misadventure.

Peter UK said...

It is worth remembering the enormous drug problem Iran has, we have troops next door in the regions biggest producer,what to do,cut back or increase production?