Also, I am beginning to share our Republican counterparts' disdain for France (although for different reasons)
The United States urged NATO on Thursday to respond quickly to any request for help in the Darfur conflict, but France insisted the alliance could not be the "gendarme of the world."
Despite NATO hints it would be ready to help a 2,000-strong African Union mission struggling to monitor a shaky ceasefire in the region, the AU has so far not made any request for support.
But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who raised the conflict at wide-ranging NATO talks in Lithuania, said it should be ready to offer help with logistics and planning if asked.
"If there is a request, I would hope NATO would activate quickly … We all have a responsibility to do what we can to alleviate the suffering in Darfur," she said.
However French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier disagreed that there was a role for NATO in Darfur and stressed that Africans should retain the lead in peace efforts.
"NATO does not have a calling to be the gendarme of the world," he told a news conference at the same meeting.
French officials see the European Union as better suited to helping in the region than NATO. The alliance's involvement would mean a further U.S. presence on a continent where former colonial power France is keen to retain strategic influence.