Home > Uncategorized > “Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion”

“Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion”

I wonder sometimes if the French do things just to irritate me. If, perhaps, it’s become personal. Because that would be the only explanation for their ongoing political and military ridiculousness.

This time, it is not just personal, it is dangerous.

Our Maginot Line-producing experts in national security – as General George S. Patton put it, “I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me” – have determined that selling a power-projecting amphibious assault ship to the Russians is a good way to make friends and influence people.

The Mistral class amphibious assault ships, also known as a helicopter carrier, are “projection and command ships”. The Mistral class ship – two ships of the class are in service, work on a third began in April 2009, and a fourth is being planned – is capable of transporting and deploying 16 NH90 or Tigre helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 Leclerc tanks, or a 40-strong Leclerc tank battalion, and 450 soldiers. The ships are also equipped with a 69-bed hospital.

In other words, this isn’t any old rubber ducky Frog ship. It’s a potentially mean weapon.

And the French want to sell it to the Russians for $750 million.

It appears that Russian officials are interested in buying several vessels, pointing out that their navy sails in several seas and noting President Dmitry Medvedev’s pledge to modernize the Russian fleet over the next decade. According to reports from Moscow, they proposed buying one Mistral in a deal that would convey the know-how to manufacture more such ships in Russia.

Six Republican senators – Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Republican John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Sam Brownback (R-KS), and James Risch (R-ID) – sent a letter to French Ambassador Pierre Vimont outlining their concerns with the sale:

Such a sale would be the most significant military sale ever between a NATO member country and Russia, and we believe it would have significant implications for all NATO members.

The letter points out disturbing comments by Russian Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotskiy, who said in September:

In the conflict in August last year [against Georgia], a ship like that would have allowed [Russia’s] Black Sea Fleet to accomplish its mission in 40 minutes, not 26 hours which is how long it took us [to land the troops ashore].

The senators also argue that the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls as well as the European Union Code of Conduct for Arms Exports should preclude the sale.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced H.RES.982, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that France and other member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union should decline to sell major weapons systems or offensive military equipment to the Russian Federation,” to try and halt the sale.

The Obama Administration has remained characteristically silent. Shock. Surprise. Dismay.

While President Nicholas Sarkozy’s government has tried to calm critics by pledging that the Mistral’s most advanced electronics will not be part of any deal and that Moscow’s dream of manufacturing its own Mistral-class ships will not be fulfilled, the very idea of selling such a powerful weapon to the Russians is inconceivable.

Putin’s Russia is not content to be just another member of the international community. Putin has his eyes fixed on building his version of an empire. The Soviets used weapons like the Mistral to concur lands, now Putin is using energy. The acquisition of a weapon like the Mistral from the French would spur ahead Moscow’s weapons development and increase their capacity to threaten their neighbors with more than gas pipeline shut downs.

Whether the Russians will still want to buy under the terms stated by French officials may become clear only when Medvedev visits Paris next month.

For all of our sakes, let’s hope that the old joke holds true:

How do you sink the French Navy?
Put it in water.

*Thanks to General Norman Schwartzkopf for use of his quote as the title of this piece…

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