Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ducking into line

Today Jacques Chirac gave an update to France's Nuclear policy, which you can read about here, while seemingly reaffirming the holding of nukes as a deterrent, he also broadened the potential use of nukes against states that sponsored a terrorist attack against France or her (unnamed) allies.

France spends about 3 Billion Euros annually to maintain between 300 and 350 nukes, and while some question the need for this expense, Chirac, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, is adamant about clinging on to them.

Now the timing of this is quite interesting. As I mentioned before, the current playbook against Iran appears to be a repeat of the UN Security Council resolution gambit. This time though, the lines will be much more clearly drawn as the US is looking to avoid the messy division that characterized the Iraq fiasco.

Ostensibly the Major Players are currently arranged as follows: the US is playing Bad Cop and the UK, France and Germany are playing the part of the Good Cops. Notice how the UK has joined Team Europe, whilst a more socialist Spain sits out.

Advocates for the defense of Iran are apparently Russia and China, but there is definitely a sense this time that there is a more concerted effort behind the scenes to get all the ducks lined up in a row and to avoid public spats. As we are not privileged to know what is going on behind all these closed doors, it's hard to speculate as to which way Russia and China will play their hands.

Nonetheless, there is the distinct impression this time around that the French and Germans will be playing theirs alongside the Anglo-Americans. The other player lurking in the background is of course Israel, whose strategic interest stands to benefit the most.

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