France’s version of ‘leadership’

Reader LCVRWC has sent me a couple of tips this week on France’s volunteering to step up to the plate and ‘lead’ an international force in Lebanon. They sounded strong at first, but days later, backed off. Jules Crittenden, writing in the Boston Herald today, explains:

French is the traditional language of diplomacy. Diplomacy is the art of saying one thing while doing another.

In recent weeks, France stepped forward to act as a broker of peace in Lebanon. “Act” is the key verb in that last sentence, as it now would seem that the only other verifiable part of the sentence is “in recent weeks.”

To correctly parse that sentence, one must understand that when France suggested it wanted to broker peace in Lebanon, it did not necessarily mean “broker” or “peace” or “Lebanon” in the way we might understand those words. The same is true when France further suggested it wanted to “lead” a “strong” “multinational” “force” there.

I don’t speak French, so I have no idea what the actual French words are for those concepts or what possible nuances there may be. I’ve been relying on news reports in English, which now inform me that the French do not intend to send any significant number of troops to what is supposed to be a force of 15,000 in Lebanon, like everyone thought they said they would.

The heady moment of peace brokering having passed, upon sober reflection, the French now say they already have a general and some staff in south Lebanon ordering about UNIFIL, the U.N. monitoring entity there. That’s plenty of leadership, the French suggested: All France needs to contribute now is another 200 combat engineers.

In tactical terms, when it comes to securing a Middle East conflict zone, that can be referred to as “squat.”


Make sure to read the whole thing. And while you’re at it, bookmark the link to Jules Crittenden’s prior opinion pieces. Good stuff.

Read more on who Jules Crittenden is by clicking here.

Read more about French military victories here.

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