In his first major foreign policy speech as president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday that Iran could be attacked militarily if it did not live up to its international obligations to curb its nuclear program.
Addressing France's ambassadorial corps, Sarkozy stressed that such an outcome would be a disaster. He did not say that France would ever participate in military action against Iran or even tacitly support such an approach.
I think he did well in saying this, because it needs to be said. (That is not to say that I think we should be in a hurry to do so.) And, I do agree with the assessment in the second paragraph.
The real beauty in this is not the fact that he said it. He said it, and he said it for a reason. But the real effectiveness is in what he didn't say. He's a skilled politician, no doubt he figured his statement would be featured for the next news cycle (or two). No doubt he knew the message would get to the Iranian leaders. I am positive he knows that others will get it, also.
He knows the Iranians need to hear it. Imagine how concerned they must be, knowing that they aren't dealing with Jacques Chirac and his policy of inconsistency, anymore.
You see, I think Sarkozy gets it, for a good many reasons. I think he understands that Iran's nuclear program is a threat. But more importantly, think he knows there's a real risk Hillary may very well get elected next year, putting the U.S. in a weaker position (and if she doesn't, the GOP could get someone elected that doesn't know squat, about foreign policy). Knowing this as he does, Sarkozy wants to be in a position to take the lead, should the next American President be capable of dropping the ball on this Iran issue. He knows it's that important.
He gets a lot of things that many Frenchmen do not give him credit for. He sends his Foreign Minister to Iraq to help, because he knows things have to get on track. (His FM gets it too.)
He knows that the instability is not good and he wants to help. He's not burying his head in the sand or wagging his finger in judgment about either the inefficiency of the effort (or the reasoning behind it). He knows that's not important now. What's important is the "here and now", as it pertains to the future. He understands the current reality in the international world and thankfully, his critics can be damned.
And wouldn't you know that after this statement was reported, Iran has made a move in the right direction?
Not a real strong move, but it's one that is minutely measurable. It may be just words, but you have to put all of this into proper perspective. Iran is used to saying it's not going to do anything, but now it is. That's no reason to celebrate, but we still have something to work with. We see an opportunity.
Not only does he show he understands Iran and Iraq, look at what he has to say about Russia:
In another break with the Chirac regime, Mr Sarkozy hardened his tone against Vladimir Putin, saying Russia was using its oil and gas wealth with "brutality".
Does anyone really think Chirac would have the courage to say something like this?
Before, Chirac didn't give a damn about anything, if it didn't have to do with embarrassing the United States. He wouldn't have openly helped us for anything, and for sure he didn't much. In fact, him and some of his countrymen actually love to take public pleasure in gloating about the stalemate that had become Iraq, prior to the surge. Now, France has someone that is in a position to help and is actually trying to get a feel for things, so that he may be able to assist in preserving Western freedoms that we all enjoy.
He takes a lot of heat from those that aren't fans of the U.S. and/or its policy. But despite that fact, he's still carving out his niche because he knows that if the U.S. fails in Iraq and Iran gains nuclear capabilities, France will not benefit. He knows it and he believes it.
I think he's read the old quote from FDR:
“Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway.”
Don't think he has the same motives Chirac did. This is a very different man with a very different ideology and worldview. He knows that all of us that enjoy freedom must be able to work together, if we will be successful in creating a real peace. He may be liberal by American standards in many issues, but when it comes to the well-being and security of the free world, he's with us. He may disagree with specifics, but he gets the big picture. He's the man France needed. If America makes the wrong choice in 2008, he may turn out to be the man the world will need.