Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2002/ 12 Adar I, 5763

Wesley Pruden

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Evidence to curdle a lot of cheese | A funny thing happened on the way to the war. Only a fortnight ago, it was gospel in the parlors of the left-wing preachers, the peaceniks and the pious Utopians that the campaign to eliminate Saddam Hussein was an exercise to seize the oil fields for ExxonMobil, Amoco and Texaco.

Everybody knew George W. and Dick Cheney were only frontmen for the guys at the pump.

Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder changed all this. When they embarked on their campaign to stifle the European response to Saddam Hussein's evil they unwittingly invited close inspection of their own motives. Now nobody is quite so sure that it's George W.'s lust for oil that's driving the argument for war.

Khidhir Hamza, who was the director of Iraq's nuclear-weapons program (the one Saddam and the peaceniks insist isn't actually there) until he defected to the West, described the Iraqi quest for weapons of mass destruction and where they took their shopping list in a remarkable op-ed essay this week in the Wall Street Journal.

Talk about protecting your market: "In the two decades before the Gulf War," writes Mr. Hamza, "I played a role in Iraq's efforts to acquire major technologies from friendly states. In 1974, I headed an Iraqi delegation to France to purchase a nuclear reactor. It was a 40-megawatt research reactor that our sources in the International Atomic Energy Agency told us should cost no more than $50 million. But the French deal ended up costing Baghdad more than $200 million. The French-controlled Habbania Resort project cost Baghdad a whopping $750 million, and with the same huge profit margin. With these kinds of deals coming their way, is it any surprise that the French are so desperate to save Saddam's regime?

"Germany was the hub of Iraq's military purchases in the 1980s. Our commercial attache, Ali Abdul Mutalib, was allocated billions of dollars to spend each year on German military industry imports. These imports included many proscribed technologies with the German government looking the other way. In 1989, German engineer Karl Schaab sold us classified technology to build and operate the centrifuges we needed for our uranium-enrichment program. German authorities have since found Mr. Schaab guilty of selling nuclear secrets ... other German firms have provided Iraq with the technology it needs to make missile parts."

But it wasn't just profiteering by the cheese-and-sausage men. Russia, Mr. Hamza says, has supplied much of the conventional weapons with which Saddam equipped his army, including the ubiquitous Kalashnikov rifles - the AK-47 that Rambo and the Terminator never leave home without - and usually at several times the market price.

Disclosure of facts such as these, well-known for years to U.S., British and Israeli intelligence agencies, render ludicrous the popular French and German allusions to George W. and Big Oil swallowed without chewing by the credulous always among us. They swallow as well the mantra that all would come right if the inspectors could just get more time to "do their work."

None of these worthies has ever explained just what it is the Franco-German dissenters to European policy would agree to do if the inspectors return a year hence - or a decade hence - with more of the kind of evidence they have already turned up.

Saddam's own generous agreement this week to "allow" U-2 surveillance oversight flights and other "gestures of co-operation" is absurd on its face, too, suggesting that he is playing games with himself. This is "co-operation" of a piece with Bill Clinton's famous offer of "co-operation" when, after Monica was discovered on her knees in the Oval Office pantry, he solemnly promised not to make any decisions "until we get more facts." Who knew the facts better than Bubba himself? If Saddam, who knows what his weapons of mass destruction are and where they are, would cooperate, nobody would need inspectors.

Mr. Hamza notes that the scientists assigned to produce Saddam's weapons spent only part of their time in the lab, building the deadly instruments of clandestine warfare. Their job was a training course as well in how to hide, bob, camouflage, weave and deceive.

France, Germany and Russia - perhaps like Libya, Cuba and North Korea, their "partners" in throwing up obstacles to peace - clearly have their very good reasons for keeping the allies out of Baghdad. The exposure of Franco-German connivance with Saddam's frantic pursuit of the weapons with which to threaten civilization with catastrophe would curdle a lot of cheese and spoil a lot of sausage.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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