Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Being Suspicious or Hopeful

So is France rejoining the West?

Strategypage has this short piece:

France is sending its nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, to the coast of Pakistan. There, the carrier will sent its twenty warplanes to bases in Afghanistan, to support NATO peacekeeping efforts. The de Gaulle will arrive off Pakistan in May, 2006.

Interesting. Why is France sending carrier planes to operate ashore in Afghanistan? Why not use land-based planes and just fly them in, hopping from land base to land base? Wouldn't land-based pilots have more expertise in ground support? Does France have enough carrier planes to deprive them of naval aviation with a mission like this instead of using air force assets?

Given France's assertion that they'd use nukes against Iran if attacked, recent internal problems with radical Islam notwithstanding past French sympathy to Islamist causes, and French efforts to get back on our good side, is France preparing to help us against Iran with a nice Afghanistan cover story?

And France wouldn't even need to take part in the attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities to be of help. Any military campaign to hit Iran's nuke facilities would have to be wide-ranging and look very much like a war. France could join us to hit Iran's naval assets (hey, an aircraft carrier's air component would be perfect for that!) and free up our air assets to hit targets in Iran itself. The French could portray their military actions as purely defensive to protect the Strait of Hormuz oil shipping routes.

So, does De Gaulle take part in strikes before it is scheduled to fly its planes to Afghanistan or does it fly them off and secretly pick up a new wing (perhaps from Djibouti?) after? And then the fire works begin?

Very interesting.