Monday, August 27, 2007

A New and Improved France?

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 Iran." 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.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

If "sometimes force is a necessary option"...than is blow back sometimes an unavoidable consequence of that force?

Do you believe that Israel's nuclear arsenal should be monitored by the UN? Why or why not?

Seth Weinberger said...

I must admit, I don't quite understand your first question. Are you asking if the use of military force occasionally produces negative unintended consequences? The answer to that is obvious yes, of course it does. But that's not a very interesting question..everything can produce negative results. The trick is to analyze a situation and try to anticipate the likely outcomes, as well as to understand the consequences of inaction.

As to your second question, while I would prefer that Israel's nuclear arsenal be monitored by an international agency, I do not believe that it should be. Israel is not, nor has it ever been, a member of the NPT. Thus, there is no legal obligation for Israel to submit its nuclear program to inspection. Iran is a member of the NPT and is in clear violation of its obligations. That is the difference.

Anonymous said...

Okay, that's the Richard Perle logic.

I guess I was asking the question hoping to get an answer from someone interested in "Security Dilemmas" but I got the the "Israel Comes First" perspective. Never again right?

If you are interested in security, than it does not take too much to realize that proliferation in the region is a direct result of Israel having a stockpile of nuclear weapons.

You are on the shadows beating the drums for war...and if/when the U.S attacks Iran, the consequences of said war will make Iraq really look like a cake walk. As much as you might not agree, you ARE promoting war. Every one of your posts that deals with diplomacy in this matter is from the "diplomacy doesn't work" side.

Seth Weinberger said...

Can you produce any evidence that Israel's NW arsenal is responsible for proliferation in the Middle East? If Israel's arsenal is so destabilizing, where's Egypt's proliferation? Jordan's? To the contrary, it is much more likely to be responsible for the largely peaceable relations between Israel and its immediate neighbors. Israel's development of NW directly led to the Camp David accords with Egypt and have kept the Syrian border quiet as well.

International law, to the degree that it functions, is a product of state choice. It cannot apply to states that do not choose to be bound to it. If Iran had not signed on to the NPT, the international community would not have any legal grounds on which to challenge the Iranian nuclear program.

Matt said...

"If you are interested in security, than it does not take too much to realize that proliferation in the region is a direct result of Israel having a stockpile of nuclear weapons."

By "proliferation in the region," I'm assuming you mean Iran, for which pointing the finger at Israel is a convenient yet lazy exercise.

The Iranian program really got underway in the mid to late 1980's - a time period, it is important to note, that pitted Iran against Iraq in a grueling, decade-long war that featured some of the first major uses of chemical warfare since the first part of the century. And just a few years later, Tehran watched as Iraq, the world's fourth largest army at the time and a foe that Iran could not best, was effortlessly defeated by conventional means by Washington and its allies.

Meanwhile, the nuclear program has always had a domestic component: it makes use of a large scientific base, adds legitimacy to the hardline elements in a struggling regime, and allows Iran to flaunt technological advancements in a region typically devoid of progress.

There are other reasons why countries pursue nuclear weapons (or even the basic technology itself) other than the security dimension. Deducing that Israel is "directly" to blame is an incomplete analysis.

Seth Weinberger said...

Thanks Matt...couldn't have said it better myself!

Anonymous said...

By evidence, you mean something from some U.S government source. Obviously, if I give you the words of Ahmadinejad, that is not evidence. Come on now Seth, you are the same person that suggested that the Noble Peace Prize should be taken back from Mohamed ElBaradei because he does not subscribe to your ideological predisposition.
"International law, to the degree that it functions, is a product of state choice. It cannot apply to states that do not choose to be bound to it"

If Iran wanted to have nuclear weapons, than it could BACK OUT of the NPT. Is that correct Seth? From my understanding, nations are ALLOWED to back out of the NPT. If that is the case, than Iran can take itself out. You are correct; nations that do not sign on do not have to go by those rules. An example is the United States vis-a-vis the UN Declaration on the Rights of Children. The U.S "doesn’t have to" follow this but as the country that bombs the hell out of cities in Afghanistan and Iraq, it "should" ratify the treaty. It does not take a PhD to see that when powerful nations do not follow the guidelines that they attempt to force on weaker states, than that will sow discontent among the people of the weaker state. Sometimes, this may manifest itself in the form of violence.

Now Matt, very cute of you to discredit what I said simply by calling it lazy. Perhaps its lazy of you to speak of the Iran-Iraq conflict without mentioning the role of the United States in that whole ordeal, or maybe Iran-Contra in

“Meanwhile, the nuclear program has always had a domestic component: it makes use of a large scientific base, adds legitimacy to the hardline elements in a struggling regime, and allows Iran to flaunt technological advancements in a region typically devoid of progress”

What does this have to do with anything? Are you showing your knowledge because it does not connect to what is being discussed? Now, I can either take your comments as “idiotic” or outright stupidity. Whatever you may think of the mullahs (and I personally am not too fond of them) they are NOT struggling. Second, and most important, what do you mean by “devoid of progress”. You mean nuclear weapons or can I just assume you are guising bigotry in a intellectual’s cloak. Iraq…for one…is the cradle of civilization. When you eat meat, that animal was domesticated in Iraq…as you write…your writing was developed in present Iraq. So, I suggest you read a little more on history and a little less of Kagan and Perle. Just my advice. Laziness is when you leave out really important things in order to make a partisan point.

Anonymous said...

"Deducing that Israel is "directly" to blame is an incomplete analysis."


Better an incomplete analysis than an Orientalist one.

Anonymous said...

And my aim is malice Matt, I just think that sometimes, you might want to reconsider how something you write on the Internet can be perceived. As someone from the unprogressed part of the world that you mention, I dont think the capability of a state to have weapons that can kills millions is necessarily "progress"

Anonymous said...

is not malice***

Canadian Tar Heel said...

Anon: Odd, I thought the subject of the post was a change in French leadership. How did this turn into an argument against Israel’s nuclear weapons? More to the point, why turn this thread into an attempt at identifying double standards on the part of the West (re Israel)? This seems fairly predictable, if not cliché. And it hardly serves as some sort of trump card? Worse, it suggests a degree of self-centredness, where the West is guilty of all the world’s ills. Such arguments are rather ironic in contrast to “the Richard Perle logic”, where the West (namely the US) is the world’s saviour. It’s just the other side of the same coin.

SW: It seems almost too obvious. What good is the carrot and stick approach that Chirac supposedly advocated, if France never showed the stick? Simply putting it on display or mentioning it does not mean that one must take it out and beat someone with it. North America certainly has a lot of hope for Sarkozy’s pragmaticism, and it would seem that the French do too.

Anonymous said...

I guess what you by predictable is that although you have encountered this issue many times, you have never never sought to answer the question. thus, your only reply is calling a legitimate question (and the largest reason why Iran is being so uncooperative)is calling it cliche.