There's been a heavy dose of sniggering and/or chestbeating in the blogsphere about France's declining influence and inflating pretense; this is only the latest in a series, mostly concentrating on the publishing of three pessimistic French books in recent days. I never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but: get a grip. France may not be a first-rate superpower or even power, but it is a truly excellent third-rate player on the world scene. They have aircraft carriers, a large and relatively well-trained army, and the logistical muscle to make themselves heard in other parts of the world.
In a situation where Germany is scaling back their army, and NATO is busting a gut trying to expand its footprint in Afghanistan, France *is* a power that needs to be recognized. You can be sure that China (to name another permanent member of the Security Council) is not capable of intervention beyond its immediate neighbors, or indeed, across something as negligible as the Taiwan Straits. Russia is terminally bogged down in the Caucasus region, and is doing its best to stand its ground in central Asia in the face of increasing American and Chinese influence. India is likewise pinned by its commitments within its own borders and among its neighbors. Brazil is due for one of its periodic disastrous-socialism-driven declines. Japan's pacifism and decade-long economic deflation has punctured its pretense of world-striding influence.
We should not be lulled into the sense that France is a pygmy. It is not. Its economy is bigger than Great Britain's, and it has the bomb. It has diplomatic leverage, some military power, and economic weight. Simply because a power is in *decline* does not mean that it is not *dangerous*.
Via, of course, Instapundit.