Much has been made of the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his seemingly overt pro-American leanings. He has already vacationed in New England, and his policies seem to be much warmer towards Washington than those of his predecessor. But today, Sarkozy has given us a clear signal that his France will not be the sissified, wishy-washy, knee-jerk anti-American France of Chirac.
In his first major speech on foreign policy, Sarkozy warned that a serious diplomatic effort on Iran's nuclear program is the only alternative to "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of ." Sarkozy made it clear that he prefers the diplomatic option, but even the mention of the use of force is a refreshing change coming from France.
I have blogged before about a critical problem in the push for more multilateral action: The unwillingness of the international community -- such as France, Germany, and the UN -- to back their negotiations and threats with military force. There is little chance that the US will trust its international security to multilateral efforts if those efforts won't even consider using force when and where diplomacy fails. It is refreshing to see Sarkozy discuss the use of military force, even if he does so in the context of a bad option to be avoided. But only when France and other countries that lead the drive for multilateral action step up and recognize that sometimes force is a necessary option, and one that is more often needed in the background of diplomacy, can multilateral action be truly successful.