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The Business of French Diplomacy

The Washington Post is running an editorial on the sale of the Mistral warship by France to Russia, despite Moscow’s open violation of the Sarkozy-brokered ceasefire agreement to end the Russia-Georgia war of 2008.  It is a pretty tough conundrum for France to explain, or at least an embarrassing demonstration of power.

After all, times are tough. Three-quarters of a billion dollars is three-quarters of a billion dollars. And France has never hidden its inclination to submerge principle when it comes to maintaining a profitable commercial relationship with the nation that supplies so much of Europe’s oil and gas.

Still, we do find it surprising — maybe because we remember French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s role in brokering an end to the August 2008 conflict in which Russia invaded Georgia, its tiny neighbor to the south. Russia promised Mr. Sarkozy a number of things, among them that it would retreat to prewar lines and force levels. Mr. Sarkozy trumpeted these promises as a great success of French diplomacy — more accurately, of Sarkozy diplomacy. Then Russia promptly broke those promises, and it remains, to this day, in gross violation of the cease-fire agreement as it occupies swaths of Georgian territory.