Around the United States and the world, there are high school, community college, and university exercises called “Model United Nations”. Basically, students divide themselves into different national and regional clusters. There are NGOs in the simulated exercises — usually crises that the students need to work through — as well as students assigned to perform U.N. Secretariat functions.
At the end of the multi-day meetings, prizes are distributed to college teams and students for exemplary performance. The best prizes go to those players who out think and out maneuver better resourced nations and rival universities or high schools.
In the case of the UN Resolution likely to be voted on tonight establishing a cease fire in Lebanon and compelling both an Israeli military withdrawal and a sizeable “Hezbollah-free zone” as well as the deployment of a joint United Nations/Lebanon military force in Southern Lebanon — French diplomacy has been the pace-setter.
I’m about to go on Air America’s “The Majority Report” with Sam Seder and will be back shortly to fill in why the French deserve a prize for all the string-pulling and maneuvering they pulled off behind the scenes.
On a break during the show — but here is the scoop on France’s impressive, Machiavellian diplomacy.
First, during the first UN Resolution that was cobbled together, the French signed on to the U.S. language. While that first resolution favored Israeli interests disproportionately and did not call for an immediate Israeli military withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, it laid the groundwork for a ceasefire and for a deal on the Shebaa Farms.
The French encouraged the Arab League and Lebanon to object to the resolution — particularly over the failure to call for an immediate Israeli withdrawal. The French then jumped ship and sang in unity with Lebanon and the Arab League — and then pushed Hezbollah to accept something reasonable between the original US/French position and the later French/Arab League position.
In the end, the French maneuvered American agreement on the ceasefire and Israel’s troop withdrawals — and left Israel diplomatically cornered.
If John Bolton wants to take credit for any of this, let him — but it was the French all the way.
The situation is still incredibly fragile — but what the French did to outrun and outmaneuver Americans and Israelis who could not set the pace or terms of an endgame was needed and impressive.
— Steve Clemons