Which is more difficult to believe - that Ehud Olmert actually thought the U.N. was going to come in force to defend Israel and disarm Hezbollah, or that France would fulfill its pledge to lead this risky expedition? It doesn't matter, as this is one soap bubble that popped fairly quickly:
...there was still no firm date for a deployment of an enhanced international force that is supposed to expand to 15,000 troops and join an equal number of Lebanese soldiers. France announced it would provide only 400, and Germany — uneasy given its Nazi past of any possible military confrontation with Israeli soldiers — said it wouldn't send any.
France was expected to lead the U.N. force, and its announcement of such a small number focused attention on its demands for a more explicit mandate, including when to use firepower, and could affect contributions by other countries.
Even though the Israel withdrawal and handover to U.N. forces has gone well thus far, some potential contributors are believed to be concerned about avoiding confrontation with Hezbollah...
Confrontation with Hezbollah is supposed to be the point, no? To disarm a terrorist militia currently launching attacks on a neighboring country? Europe has just announced that they do not have the stomach to fight terror, or the radical Islamist movement. They promised Israel security if they would just sign on the dotted line - only to turn tail and run before the battle has even been joined. Led by France, naturally....
The Islamists have noticed:
Those looking for gloomy signs would not have been disappointed yesterday. Hezbollah, the radical Shiite militia and political party, was violating U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 in numerous ways, including by failing to disarm and by failing to free the Israeli soldiers with whose kidnapping it precipitated the war last month. Neither Iran nor Syria, Hezbollah's financial backers and arms suppliers, had accepted the terms of the resolution, which the Security Council adopted on a 15-to-0 vote with the support of Lebanon's government. In fact, on Tuesday Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delivered a speech of such venomous intransigence ("The fact that Israel should know is that each new generation will hate Israel more than the generation which preceded it.") that Germany's foreign minister, a leading advocate within the West for engaging Mr. Assad, canceled a trip to Damascus for which he had already boarded his jet.
This particular battle in the war on terror has been lost. Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran have progressed by their aggression over the last month, while Israel and the West shrink back, trying to paper their losses with meaningless resolutions blithly ignored by their adversaries.
We must learn from this loss, regroup, and continue to press forward. Iran has emerged from this crisis more powerful, more dangerous, and less afraid. If the West cringes at some collateral damage, doctored photographs, and the scolding of the feckless Kofi Annan, we will be no match for the unrelenting fury of the radical Islamists now marching upon us...
UPDATE: At The Dignified Rant, France's exhibition of cowardice is examined:
Shocking! Especially when you consider that that "international test" was written in French and has to be translated into English for us to take it. And France refuses to enforce a UN Security Council resolution? How can this be? Quickly, nurse! Five CCs of nuance, stat!