The Always-Helpful French
The last time we checked, diplomatic efforts to reign in Iran's nuclear program were churning along, despite Tehran's continued belligerence, and threat by Russia and China to veto sanctions presented to the U.N. Security Council.
A couple of days ago, the U.S., Great Britain and France were circulating a proposal that demands Iran cease its uranium enrichment efforts, or face the threat of further, unspecified measures. Naturally, Moscow and Beijing oppose the draft resolution, which was met with a collective yawn in Tehran.
Only the striped-pants set could view a "strongly-worded statement," and the promise vague threats in the future as "diplomatic progress." UN Ambassador John Bolton, who is both patient and an optimist, believes the UNSC may actually agree on some sort of sanctions later this summer. Let's be diplomatic (pun intended) and say that many of us remain unconvinced.
Obviously, diplomatic efforts might be more effective if those "potential threats" could be more clearly defined. The White House says all options are on the table, including possible military action. But don't tell that to our friends in Paris. Today, French Prime Minister Dominique de Vellepin said military action is "not" the solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, saying that the war in Iraq should serve as a warning against attacking Iran.
Readers will note that de Vellepin didn't offer any concrete suggestions for ending the impase, other that urging "unity" and "firmness." That pretty sums up the French "solution" for any international problem; keep talking, but don't say or promise anything that might offend a rogue state. When military action becomes imperative, leave the heavy-lifting to the Americans (and a lesser extent, the Brits), while (of course) reserving the right to criticize the policy.
In the wake of the Oil for Food scandal, we learned that French reluctance in Iraq had come at a price--literally. With Iran now on the agenda, we can only wonder how much cash is making its way from Tehran, to the pockets of French politicians. I'm not saying that de Vellepin is on the take, but I'm guessing that the mullahs have at least a few well-paid friends in Paris.