Well I didn't expect to be away for almost 2 weeks, but finals are finally over, yipee.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that both France and Germany have quickly backtracked on their promises to send soldiers to Lebanon. Aside from their inability to deploy many troops overseas, this simply continues the trend of the Continental Europeans ignoring their international commitments. It also isn’t surprising that the French would yet again backstab their Western allies for their own geopolitical benefit by promising to send troops and lead the force to get a ceasefire signed and then saying they won't be doing that. I have no idea why the Bush Administration continues to trust the Europeans in general and the French in particular to keep their word.
The main reason for this quixotic behavior by the Europeans is the rapid collapse of the military power of a continent that fielded ten million soldiers and held the fate of the world in its grasp just a generation ago. As the saying goes, when the only tool in your toolbox is a pen, every problem starts looking like a document to sign. What the Europeans will do when they so underfund their militaries that they can’t even afford pens anymore I don’t know. The only ability that the Europeans have to shape world events then is by using diplomacy to hobble the United States when it suits their interests or to get the U.S. to clean up Europe’s messes that are threatening them as in the Balkans. Since we won’t make our “allies” pay a price for such behavior there is no reason for them to not engage in it.
For example, the Europeans are almost single handily ensuring Iran will have nuclear missiles by their endless demand for more talks and then yet more talks. Why should they do that when Berlin, Paris, and Brussels are in range but not Washington? Simple, they are currently reaping the benefits of trading Iranian blood and suffering for European oil and profits just as they were doing with Saddam’s Iraq. From their perspective there is no reason to risk that cozy relationship because of the chance that Iran will go nuclear. If Iran does acquire nuclear missiles, the United States has spent hundreds of billions of ballistic missile defenses so Europe will be protected for free anyways. Indeed the European calculation is proving to be correct, they profit by making a huge overseas mess for us and we pay to protect them from it by installing interceptor missiles in Eastern Europe.
Back to the latest example of Euro-weaseling. That the French would change in a day from 3-4 thousand soldiers to 1,600-2,000 and the Germans from sending soldiers to sending a few naval vessels should have been expected given the few soldiers they have available for deployment. I wrote about both several months ago in regards to the silly lefty belief that France and German would have sent a division each to Iraq had Bush asked pretty please with a cherry on top (France is here, and Germany here). Simply put, the French have only a few thousand soldiers available for deployment who must be kept in reserve given their international interests while the Germans are essentially maxed out by their deployments in the Balkans and Afghanistan (although they could scrounge up a few hundreds if needed). I didn’t write about Italy but they do have a few thousand soldiers to deploy so 3,000 shouldn’t be too difficult to manage.
France’s appalling behavior at the U.N. is the norm for them sadly. They hoodwink us in by appearing interested in a real ceasefire and even going along with it. Then they change the deal but promise to send a large contingent of peacekeepers and to lead the force. The United States and Israelis go along with it (though Olmert hardly needed any encouragement to give up) since at least a strong European force will be in place to stop Hezbollah from returning. Then the day after the French and Germans announce they won’t be sending the soldiers they promised. Sounds a lot like the French game plan at the U.N. circa 2002, they get the U.S. to go through the purgatory that is the U.N with promises of being serious and then after the U.S. can’t wait any longer for a resolution they announce they will veto it.
This isn’t the first time Europe and especially France has broken their own international commitments. This is hardly an exhaustive list and is in no particular order: France and Germany continue ignoring the Euro rules on budget deficits that they themselves wrote, Europe is no where close to meeting its Kyoto Protocol requirements (they should be around 8 not 8.5, their pollution has been rising since the benefits from closing British coal power plants and East German factories ended in the mid 90’s), the reconstruction aid promised after the war in Afghanistan didn't arrive (no we didn't send as much as we could because we believed the Europeans when they said they would send the aid), their international Galileo satellite program is falling apart since no one will provide the funding they promised, the emissions trading system is breaking down as countries ignore it, the French especially break many defense contracts in a manner that benefits French industry. We need to accept that this is the sort of behavior that we will see from Europe in general and France in particular. It will only get worse as their global power and influence continues to recede and their Muslim populations grow ever larger and more violent. The only responsible and good nations left are us, Japan, and the Anglo powers (although Canada can be a bit wobbly on the responsible part when under the Liberals). If the world is to have any chance we must focus our efforts with these countries.