People certainly do become excited when something unexpected appears on the horizon. In this case it is the prospect of the reported Franco-German proposal for occupation of Iraq by a force of several thousand UN troops supporting 300 or more weapons inspectors.

Forgive me my failure to be impressed. I do think it is a positive sign that the French have chosen to make a somewhat bold move in the face of impending military action by the United States and her numerous allies; however, this amounts to far too little, far too late and compounds that with the additional sin of lacking even a semblance of originality. What has been proposed (or more correctly, is rumored to be proposed in the near future) is simply a none-too-clever recapitulation of the “Robust Inspection Regime” proposed last year: several thousand soldiers traipsing through the Iraqi countryside seeking out illicit weapons sites.

This is certain to be grasped close to the breast of those seeking any option to prevent the west from taking any sort of concerted action against Iraq. It is also doomed to rapid failure for one very simple reason: Iraq will never accede to this. Even if they feign interest in the concept simply insisting upon rapid implementation can catch them out. The only danger this proposal presents is that of delay, and even that is unlikely to succeed.

Let us examine the following:

Assume that the US feels they have no choice but to accept this proposal, what would the first move be in Washington? To insist on moving troops in to Iraq immediately. American troops. It would be a reasonable insistence that would likely break the deal on the spot.

Look at the track record of UN Peacekeeping forces in dangerous situations- to say they have not earned a reputation for honor and effectiveness is to put absolutely the most positive light upon them that one can. Blue helmets have stood by and watched the slaughter of innocents, they have become hostages and they have proven repeatedly to be ineffective over the past few decades. Is there any reason to believe that there will suddenly be a change? The short answer is “No”. The long answer is that given the nature and organization of such forces and the extraordinarily political nature of the leadership of same it would be na?ve in the extreme to expect such forces to be capable of confronting even the mildest resistance from Iraqi forces or institutions.

Neither of the above are earth-shattering revelations. If I can propose them here others have doubtless taken their measure as well. There are other objections, all of which have been raised before when this idea was originally proposed and rejected as unworkable and unlikely to succeed.

A logical conclusion might be that those proposing this plan do not expect it to be implemented. So why propose it? The French are staring irrelevancy in the face and they do not like what they see. This ploy allows them to establish themselves as the preeminent political opposition to the United States on the world stage, at least in their domestic sphere and the arena of the European Union.

If the French are hoping against logic that this plan will actually be put in to action one would be forced to consider the extremely unpleasant possibility that they are desperate to hide something. In that case the possibilities become numerous and in some cases quite ghastly.

Only time will tell.

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