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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Memo to France: Get Out of the Way

No, I'm not talking about the Middle East. France has been given a wide berth because of its historical presence in Africa. Some, though not including me, could make the argument that France was operating from a position of principled resistance to the US re the Iraq War, but there is no such shelter here:

The latest piece of a solution is a decision last week by the African Union (AU) to triple its troops in Darfur to 7,700 and ask NATO for logistical support. Even that additional foreign presence in a region the size of France wouldn't be enough, but it shows confidence is growing that outside intervention can be effective.

Sudan's government tacitly approves NATO's potential role in Darfur, but France, which has preferred a strictly European role in Africa's crises, may be ready to shoot down this request of NATO by African nations.

So far, France has preferred to deal with Darfur by weaker measures, such as UN Security Council steps to impose sanctions on Sudan and put Darfur's attackers on trial (if they can be caught).

Is there ever a point when we can count on something other than "No?" If France cannot be counted to act significantly in a distinctly humanitarian cause, its alleged criteria for action, in its own self-defined backyard, then it deserves to have its existence defined by the increasing irrelevance of its foreign policy considerations.

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