February 27, 2003

Will He or Won't He

Will He or Won't He

For Francophones, Le Figaro has an excellent article on whether Jacques Chirac would use France's veto power. In a little noted fact that bears mentioning:

"Le souhait de la diplomatie franaise, c'est que ce dilemme ne se prŽsente jamais. La France n'a plus utilisŽ son droit de veto contre les ƒtats-Unis depuis prs d'un demi-sicle. La seule et unique fois o elle l'opposa ˆ Washington, ce fut lors de l'expŽdition de Suez, en 1956. Et encore, ce fut un veto dŽposŽ en commun avec Londres, pour Žchapper ˆ une condamnation amŽricano-soviŽtique de l'ŽquipŽe militaire en ƒgypte. Un veto aujourd'hui contre un projet amŽricain serait donc une premire. L'espoir que la Russie se joigne ˆ la France pour un veto commun est mince, vu la volontŽ du prŽsident Vladimir Poutine de ne pas se brouiller avec Washington."

Translation: The hope of French diplomacy is that this dilemma doesn't present itself (Note: The French hope that nine countries won't support the resolution so that the veto issue doesn't arise). France has not used its veto against the U.S. for nearly a half century. The one and only time that France opposed Washinton occurred during the Suez expedition, in 1956. And even here, the veto was undertaken in concert with London to escape a U.S.-Soviet condemnation of the military excursion in Egypt. A veto today against an American project would thus be the first. Hope that Russia joins France for a common veto is thin, given President Putin's desire to not have disputes with Washington.

Well, it sure has been a long time, hasn't it? In fact, as a direct veto of a U.S. policy aim it would be unprecedented since the very creation of the U.N. Chirac, it appears, has very ugly options. An abstention looks weak-kneed and cowardly (somewhat apropos, no?). A veto would be "considered an unfriendly act" as the U.S. Ambassador to France puts it. A yes vote, barring Saddam flouting the inspections regime in a way so dramatic that Chirac can crawl out from under his recalcitrant position, is hard to imagine given Saddam's somewhat adept tactical maneuverings. Well, you reap what you sow, I guess.

Posted by Gregory at February 27, 2003 01:39 PM
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