A French View of the Iranian Situation

55thinffrnat I recently asked a Retired French flag officer who is an old friend to give us his thoughts on French policy toward Iran.  He has been kind enough to send us the following paper.  pl


Download iran_for_pl.doc

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15 Responses to A French View of the Iranian Situation

  1. Grim says:

    “If we need some combination of sanctions, threats and cooperation offers to get Tehran back at the table of negotiations, we should look toward the veterans of the Iran-Iraq war, particularly among the IRGC. They are the future power in the country. We should also understand what they are hoping for.”
    Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this expressed, that the IRGC is or will be key to our long-term aims/interests vis a vis Iran. (Encompassing more than the nuclear issue.) Caught me by surprise the first time it was mentioned – and seemed so far “out there” that there had to be something to it.
    Unfortunate he didn’t elaborate.
    Any thoughts?

  2. George Carty says:

    Speaking of France, how many people here would agree with me that their opposition to the Iraq war in 2003 was motivated primarily by “better Saddam than Shari’ah”?

  3. Will says:

    “Moreover, it is contrary to the rights granted by the NPT. ”
    An admission often glossed over, the NPT treaty rights
    2)A faulty analysis
    “France, like many other countries, suspects Iran of develop a nuclear military program through its research on plutonium and its uranium enrichment program of thousands of centrifuges. Moreover, its development of intermediate range ballistic missiles would not make sense without nuclear warheads.”
    It would make sense with chemical, pathological, or radiological warheads as a deterrence to nukes which has been the Syrian poor man’s model.

  4. jonst says:

    If they/we are defining ‘success’ as preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, I would suggest we are courting failure once again. Iran is not North Korea.

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “Thank you for the French general’s analysis.
    About the Russian position on Iran:
    Until summer 2005 I used to meet with the officers of the Russian embassy. We exchanged political analyses on Israel and Russia regarding the Israeli-Palestinian, Iran, Syria, the US, whatever. In our meetings I asked him about Russia and Iran. He told me something that surprised me, as an historian of the ME: Russia was not happy about, but also not bothered much by the prospect of an Iranian nuclear arsenal. A. There was no political dispute. The confrontations of the 19th and mid-20th centuries were definitely over. B. Russia was not helping Iran’s military plan. C. The Iranians are many years away from a nuclear arsenal. D. Russia was making a lot of money in its dealings with Iran. Ergo: there would be no meaningful change in policy in the foreseeable future. It seems that two years later this is still the case
    Amatzia Baram”

  6. eaken says:

    “Moreover, its development of intermediate range ballistic missiles would not make sense without nuclear warheads.”
    So no nuclear warheads for Iran. Now no intermediate range ballistic missiles either?
    I’ll either interpret it as that or, yes Iran, you can have a nuclear program if you get rid of your intermediate range ballistic missiles.
    Seeing how the second scenario would likely not work either, the only conclusion you can come to is that AIPAC’s “cousin”, “FIPAC”, is just as influential.

  7. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Too bad we don’t have this fellow running our foreign policy:
    Friendly Game of Chance?
    Or maybe we do, and that’s the problem.

  8. Nabil says:

    The medium range missiles are being developed for two main reasons, I think. First, the ability to hit Israel even with conventional warheads provides a sense of parity, and a means of retaliation for any strike against Iran. This is trumpeted by Iran to no end: The fact that they can touch Israel.
    Second, technological advancement for its own sake is a source of pride. Every couple of years they roll out some fighter jet or weapons system to brag about, even though said fighter or system is not even a match for (usually a clone of) hardware from decades ago.
    None of that is an argument for or against Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons desires.

  9. Homer says:

    Re: “wipe Israel off the map”
    “President Ahmadinejad’s exhortations to eliminate Israel from the map have moved Paris toward a policy more in step with Washington.”
    Cf. Cole (Tuesday, June 26, 2007)
    As most of my readers know, Ahmadinejad did not use that phrase in Persian.
    He quoted an old saying of Ayatollah Khomeini calling for ‘this occupation regime over Jerusalem” to “vanish from the page of time.’
    Calling for a regime to vanish is not the same as calling for people to be killed.
    I renew my call to readers to write protest letters to newspapers and other media every time they hear it alleged that Ahmadinejad (or “Iran”!) has threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.”
    There is no such idiom in Persian and it is not what he said, and the mistranslation gives entirely the wrong impression.
    Wars can start over bad translations.
    It was apparently some Western wire service that mistranslated the phrase as ‘wipe Israel off the map’, which sounds rather more violent than calling for regime change.
    Since then, Iranian media working in English have themselves depended on that translation.
    One of the tricks of Right-Zionist propagandists is to substitute these English texts for Ahmadinejad’s own Persian text. (Ethan Bronner at the New York Times tried to pull this, and more recently Michael Rubin at the American Enterprise Institute.)
    But good scholarship requires that you go to the original Persian text in search of the meaning of a phrase.
    Bronner and Rubin are guilty disregarding philological scholarship in favor of mere propagandizing.

  10. Bernie says:

    “President Ahmadinejad’s exhortations to eliminate Israel from the map have moved Paris toward a policy more in step with Washington.”
    The same comment caught my eye. I very seldom post, but am a regular reader. I feel compelled to voice my disbelief. Surely Sarkozy did not decide to jump aboard the sanctions bandwagon because of a mistranslated phrase. That would beggar belief!

  11. Grim says:

    Forgive me the Wiki cut and paste, but this has been mentioned before in re wiping Israel off the map and the consequences (or uses) of poor translation:
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev famously used an expression generally translated into English as “We will bury you!” (“Мы вас похороним!”, transliterated as My vas pokhoronim!) while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception in Moscow in November, 1956.[1] The translation has been controversial because it was presented as being belligerent out of context. The phrase may well have been intended to mean the Soviet Union would outlast the West, as a more complete version of the quote reads: “Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you”—a meaning more akin to “we will attend your funeral” than “we shall cause your funeral”.
    Several online sources incorrectly claim that he made this statement at the United Nations General Assembly on October 11, 1960, when he is said to have pounded the table with his shoe, or with an extra shoe he had brought with him explicitly for that purpose. [2] (Occasionally these incorrect reports give the date October 12, the date this incident was reported in most newspapers.)
    Speaking some years later in Yugoslavia, Khrushchev himself remarked, “I once said, ‘We will bury you,’ and I got into trouble with it. Of course we will not bury you with a shovel. Your own working class will bury you”, [3] a nod to the popular Marxist saying, “The proletariat is the undertaker of capitalism.” Khrushchev later went on to explain that socialism would replace capitalism in the same manner that capitalism itself supplanted feudalism.

  12. Mad Dogs says:

    Seems the French have no better idea of what to do with Iran than does the US.
    As I understand this Administration’s policy toward Iran, it is:
    “We cannot talk to Iran! No, can not! Ergo we must bomb Iran.”
    When heard in a schoolyard between 4 year olds, it is not surprising.
    When heard on the world stage, it is deranged and disgraceful.
    A final point is that Israel seems not to have learned any lessons about MAD. Is the paranoia in its leadership circles that deep?

  13. Bernie says:

    Further to the Sarkosy position on Iran.
    Their stance vs Iran seems to be a 180 degree turn from the positions taken by Chirac and Villepin during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. I remember Villepin’s speech to the UN and the subsequent villification of the French by the Anglo-American axis.
    In the end, I believe their position was more than vindicated. So has the world-view of the French people changed in the intervening period? Or is it that they were so traumatized by the whipping they took from the US and UK that they have decided to lock step with US policy?
    It seems to me that something is amiss, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

  14. David W says:

    The French I know consider Sarkozy to be something of a joke, and his election came over a very weak field of candidates. He has worn his ‘wannabe America’ patch on his sleeve, and there is no doubt that the current French position was set on Bush’s front porch in Kennebunkport last summer.
    My waggish take is this: Bush has traded his old English Setter for a French Poodle pup, allowing France to become the new neocon Oceana, saying “See? even the *French* say Iran is a threat, so if those cheese eating surrender monkeys, er, our allies say so, then they must really be bad.”

  15. confusedponderer says:

    Georgie had a revealing slip of the tongue about what the US fears in regard of the ‘nuclear issue’. I saw and heared this on a clip with David Gregory, and it was dreadful. It’s impressive to see how the official line determines public dispute and reporting.

    If you’re interested in avoiding World War Three, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them to have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclular weapons.

    Crazy Ahmedinejad & nukes & wiping Israel-off-the-map — that’s for the rubes. It’s about preventing a challenge to US ambition in the Middle East.

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