Jewish World Review Feb. 3, 2003 / 2 Adar I, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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The "Axis of Weasels"


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Web logger Scott Ott (Scrappleface) scored another triumph for the blogosphere when he used the term "Axis of Weasels" to describe the joint efforts of France and Germany to prevent military action against Iraq. His satire flew around the internet. Soon, French and German reporters in Washington were having to explain to the home folks what it meant.

"Axis of Weasels," like Jonah Goldberg's description of the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," seems likely to enter the lexicon of the increasing number of Americans who are fed up with the self-serving antics of these erstwhile "friends and allies."

The French and the Germans consider themselves morally and intellectually superior to Americans generally, and to our "cowboy" president in particular. But they exceed us only in their arrogance, cowardice, and short-sighted greed.

The "Axis of Weasels" controversy highlights a double standard by liberals. There are 19 nations in NATO. Most are willing to support military action against Iraq. But Germany has said it will veto this. Yet none who have expressed alarm at "unilateralism" by the United States have had a word of criticism for German unilateralism. The French have said they may veto a resolution authorizing force even if a majority on the Security Council favors it. There's been no denunciation of French unilateralism, either. The French have three fundamental reasons for opposing military action against Iraq. They have little to do with world peace.

The foremost reason is economic. The French have made huge economic investments in Saddam Hussein's regime, and are worried about losing them if the government in Iraq is changed. French trade with Iraq burgeoned to 660 million euros ($713 million) last year, up from 398 million euros in 2000, according to the German magazine Die Zeit. Some 130 French companies, foremost among them the oil conglomerate TotalFinalElf, which operates two huge oilfields in Western Iraq, do business with Saddam.

Another reason is coverup. The French do not want the world to remember that Saddam relied heavily on French assistance in his first attempt to acquire nuclear weapons. The Osirak reactor was built chiefly by French engineers, and was to rely on nuclear fuel supplied by France. Had the Israelis not destroyed it in 1981, the Gulf War could have ended in catastrophe. Saddam's overthrow likely would lead to revelation of French collaboration, past and present, with his odious dictatorship.

A third reason is jealousy. It galls the French that the "lingua franca" of the world is English. From deGaulle onwards, French politicans have sought to reclaim France's lost glory. They seek to do this chiefly by poking a stick in the eye of the United States, because they know they can do this safely. Annoying America has not had the historical consequences for France that, say, annoying Germany has had.

German participation in the Axis of Weasels flows chiefly from the political weakness of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, now officially the most unpopular leader in the history of polling in that country.

Stung by the devastation of, and from having been the bad guys in World War II, Germans are deeply pacifist. Schroeder narrowly won re-election last fall running on an anti-war platform that crossed the line into anti-Americanism. Since then, because of a bad economy, Schroeder's approval rating has fallen to 25 percent. The only stance of his that remains popular is his opposition to war. With elections in two German states next month, he's beating that drum as loudly as he can.

Greed and coverup are also German motives. A Berlin newspaper, the Tageszeitung (Daily Times), reported that Iraq's 12,000-page submission to the UN indicates Germany has been the number one supplier of weapons components to Iraq. Some 80 German firms and research labs have delivered technical know-how, components, precursor substances and even entire technical facilities for development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, the Tageszeitung said.

The Axis of Weasels has been profiting from the suffering of the Iraqi people. The real reasons why France and Germany oppose war with Iraq are among the reasons for war. They deserve more attention from the "mainstream" media than they have been getting.

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10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
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03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
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© 2002, Jack Kelly