American officials complained here today that the French have done nothing diplomatically to help round up votes for a Security Council resolution condemning Libyan aggression against Chad.
They said the tactical differences between France and the United States in the U.N. debate reflected the larger policy dispute between the two allies that has surfaced over military support for Chad.
The Americans conceded that the French had economic reasons for preserving a relationship with any regime in Chad and with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, "while for us," one said of Qaddafi, "this is an enemy, and we want nothing to do with him."
Chad's objective at the United Nations is to demonstrate that it has majority support for the view that Libya is the aggressor and the demand that Libya end its intervention in the Chadian civil war.
Chad has achieved a modicum of success by getting 11 African delegations to speak out forcefully against Libya in the Security Council debate, while only one--Benin--has supported the Libyan position.
But the present composition of the 15-nation council will make it far more difficult to win the nine votes required to adopt--or force the Soviet Union to veto--the text circulated privately today by the Chadians that names Libya as the aggressor.
Chad can count on six votes: the United States, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Togo and Zaire. Guyana is a potential backer. The swing votes are Jordan, Pakistan, Malta and Zimbabwe, which are reluctant either to vote against Libya or to side with the United States. The other council members are the Soviet Union, Poland, Nicaragua and China.
The French view is that while the debate itself is useful as a manifestation of African support for Chad, the effort to win a majority for a strong resolution is futile. Other western diplomats also questioned whether the result would be worth the pressure required to sway the fence-sitters.
But an American official insisted, "The important part is the sharpness of the wording of any resolution. The problem at the U.N. is if you tell the truth you can't get the nine votes."
In yesterday's debate, American delegate Charles Lichenstein warned that "if Libyan aggression is permitted to go unpunished, then this council is revealed as impotent and Qaddafi's brutal new colonialism will threaten even more urgently the security of northern and north-central Africa."
Today French Ambassador Luc de la Barre de Nanteuil said that Chad was a victim of aggression by a foreign power, but he did not cite Libya by name. He defended French aid to the Chadian government, called for an end to foreign intervention against it and urged that the country's problems be solved peacefully "among Chadians."
As a counterpoint to the debate, held at Chad's request, Libya asked the council to meet on "acts of intimidation and provocation" against it by the United States. The twin debates have been conducted in tandem during the past two days, with the Chadian complaint aired in the mornings, and the Libyan in the afternoons.