French President Nicholas Sarkozy warned Iran this week that its continued evasiveness with reagard to, and pursuit of, its nuclear ambitions could result in some country attacking Iran. Sarkozy didn’t name any countries when he said this.
We have mixed emotions when it comes to this statement from Sarkozy. On the one hand, it’s about time someone played hardball with the ayatollahs and reminded them that they are subject to unpleasant consequences if they keep up their horrible behavior. Obama’s policy of taking the possibility of force off the table with regard to Iran sends a terrible signal that they will simply suffer no consequences of note for any of their actions. It’s not a bad idea to remind the Iranians that they are far from invulnerable and they have opponents in the world who are a lot stronger and more militarily competent than they are–by a long shot.
Moreover, Sarkozy is correct in his statement that the Iranians have not conducted any meaningful negotiations with regard to their nuclear program. In fact, it was the French who pointed out just how naive Obama’s expressed policy of engagement of Iran was when Obama announced it while running for president way back in 2008. The French had already tried to negotiate with the Iranians and it was abundantly clear that the Iranians had no interest in negotiating, simply because they were determined to move forward with uranium enrichment no matter what. Obama has basically wasted two years trying to wave enough carrots in front of the Ayatollahs to get their attention, not realizing, despite ample evidence, that they don’t like or want carrots!
But Sarkozy is hardly the best man to be delivering this tough message to the Iranians.
First of all, France is not militarily capable of unilaterally cutting Iran’s nuclear program down to size. France could conceivably play a role as part of a coalition in such an operation, but France wouldn’t even be a leader of that coalition. Make no mistake, only America possesses the military power–and the capability to project it–to severely damage or destroy Iran’s nuclear program. So, Sarkozy is the equivalent of the kid in school at the playground who picks a fight and then ducks behind his big brother when the fists start flying.
Second of all, France could do much–and should have done so years ago–to isolate the Iranians economically. The fact is, few nations can rival the amount of corporate life support that French firms have given the ayatollahs over the years, as United Against Nuclear Iran has done a superb job of detailing here:
So Sarkozy literally needs to put his money where his mouth is and impose meaningful sanctions on Iran if he really is serious about pressuring Iran.
It is a shame that the Free World is essentially leaderless on the issue of Iran and we have to resort to the president of France to issue warnings to the regime in Tehran.