A piece in the WSJ this morning by John Vinocur discussing the strange new paradigm whereby the French are tough on bad guys, and disgusted with Americans for wimping out:
In an interview with the Associated Press on Oct. 4, Barack Obama depicted Iran as a country living with sanctions “put in place because Iran had not been following international guidelines, and had behaved in ways that made a lot of people feel they were pursuing a nuclear weapon.”
For French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, that was a pastels-and-wispy-brushstrokes rendering of reality. Two days later, in an interview with Europe 1 radio, Mr. Fabius drew a darker, edgier picture. “As we speak,” he said, Iran keeps the centrifuges turning that are needed to make enriched uranium for nuclear bombs. But Iran is also pursuing a second, separate track toward atomic weapons with the construction, at Arak, of a heavy-water reactor producing plutonium.
That project might take “around a year” to complete. And “if it is completed, you won’t be able to destroy it,” Mr. Fabius said, “because if you bomb plutonium, it will leak.” At that point, he said, for “the Americans, the Israelis and others,” there would no longer be adequate sanctions to stop Tehran.
He gave no hint of who those “others” might be. But here was the French foreign minister talking about a possible military engagement against Iran in a more forceful manner than anything summoned so far by the U.S. president. Mr. Fabius was not advocating a strike, volunteering eventual French participation, or indulging in simple Obama-bashing. But he was expressing a kind of French contempt for the U.S. administration’s evasive vocabulary about the Iran endgame…
The French, fresh from having led the way in Libya and having very neatly clapped a stopper on al Qaeda’s doings in Mali, have little patience with American waffling, according to Mr. Vinocur. Some factors that feed into that are the president’s sudden backing away in Syria, and a broken promise by then-SecDef Leon Panetta last year, who promised to give France any help it needed in Mali, only to be overruled by the White House.
American actions or inactions aside, I find it fascinating to see how aggressive France has become on the world stage the last couple of years….