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Jewish World Review April 2, 2003 / 29 Adar II, 5763

Mort Zuckerman

Mort Zuckerman
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Chirac and Saddam's thugs are two of a kind | The white-flag Iraqi irregulars, who pretend to surrender and then open fire on our men and women exercising humanitarian restraint, are despicable. Sooner, rather than later, the treacherous will get what they deserve. So it must be for the others who have betrayed our restraint and practiced a lethal deceit: What Saddam's thugs are doing on the field of battle is what France, under the leadership of President Chirac, did on the field of diplomacy.

Any slim chance that Saddam would come clean or quit was lost while the French played their games. When the fog of war has lifted, we will remember how innocent blood came to be shed.

Chirac's conduct must be measured against the yardstick of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's sterling performance. The left wing of Blair's Labor Party was immersed in its traditional pacifism and thus hostile to force whatever the provocation. Blair made no attempt to dodge the bullets.

He put his premiership on the line and held fast to the alliance. He spoke with stern moral authority and penetrating insight. Two points he made are critical: One, France, by its obstructionist diplomacy, encouraged Saddam to resist U.N. Resolution 1441. Two, the most dangerous thing in the showdown with Iraq's dictator would have been to let him go unpunished. "It is dangerous if such regimes disbelieve us," Blair said. "Dangerous if they think they can use our weakness, our hesitation, even the natural urges of our democracy towards peace, against us. Dangerous because one day they will mistake our innate revulsion against war for permanent incapacity." Blair's leadership has now produced a British majority in favor of the war.

"Serious consequences." Now, contrast Britain with France. There, one sees a visceral and irrational anti-Americanism, connected, one must guess, to the decline of France as a world power and the rise of the United States as a hyperpower. That bias, disgracefully, manifested itself in a French vote for Resolution 1441 that was clearly in bad faith. The "serious consequences" language of the resolution was diplospeak for military action. But Chirac undermined both the resolution and the U.N. when he stated that "disarmament must happen peacefully," knowing that disarmament was impossible without either war or the serious threat of it. France seems to be motivated by the desire to diminish American power in the world. Chirac had no obligation to ape U.S. policy. But to sabotage it and the coalition we built around it is indefensible. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich captured the French behavior in a word: malicious.

Economic interests, as well as jealousy of power, color the picture. According to the International Herald Tribune, French interests have signed with Iraq drilling contracts worth as much as $50 billion. The contracts are so lopsidedly favorable to the French firms that no successor regime to Saddam will be able to respect them.

This is all part and parcel of Saddam's incestuous political and commercial relationship with the defense, business, and political elites of France that will undoubtedly be exposed after the war. As the Weekly Standard reported, Saddam threatened to expose what he saw as France's betrayal in the 1991 Gulf War, saying, "If the trickery continues, we will be forced to unmask them, all of them, before the French public."

The French fan dance with Iraq dates to the 1970s, when Chirac was the point man in selling nuclear reactors to Iraq, including the Osirak plant bombed by Israel in 1981. (The plant, incidentally, was known as the O'Chirac reactor.) It was Chirac who signed the treaty with Iraq allowing for the transfer of French nuclear technology and specialists. It was this same Chirac who lavished praise on Saddam as a "personal friend," a "great statesman," and who invited him to his home. And, yes, it was the very same Chirac who has led the French efforts to sell arms to Iraq, some $20 billion worth. Today, France remains Iraq's biggest European trading partner. Those who believe the United States went to war against Iraq inspired by oil are looking in the wrong direction. Try Paris.

Thank heavens that in George W. Bush we have a president who is determined not to have our national security interests held hostage to U.N. votes controlled by countries like France and Syria. This should not be construed to mean the United States is hostile to the U.N. Indeed, the Bush administration has demonstrated more determination to enforce Security Council resolutions than the Security Council itself. It has long been Security Council policy that the danger of Iraq's possession of chemical, biological, and, one day, nuclear weapons must be removed.

That's precisely what the United States and Britain are doing. The French and others who would pay any price to avoid war may not understand, but it's a simple concept, really. It's called leadership.

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JWR contributor Mort Zuckerman is editor-in-chief and publisher of U.S. News and World Report. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


03/26/03: War by new rules
03/05/03: The high price of waiting
02/14/03: Needed: fast fiscal action
02/03/03: Clear and compelling proof
01/24/03: Midnight for Baghdad
01/14/03: They should have said...
12/24/02: Who finances the fanatics?
12/19/02: Put-up or shut-up time
12/09/02: Sheep, wolves, and reality
11/21/02: Curing the uncommon cold
11/12/02: Everybody has the right to be wrong but the Dems have been abusing the privilege
11/05/02: Force vs. fanaticism
10/30/02: Land of the sinking sun
10/22/02: No more cat and mouse
10/15/02: And pigs will fly
10/07/02: A shameful contagion
09/26/02: Calling a madman's number
09/23/02: Our rainbow underclass
09/13/02: Why America must act
09/04/02: After bubbles, a double dip?
08/20/02: No time for equivocation
08/06/02: No time for politics
07/30/02: Getting off the dime
07/17/02: What scandal cannot dim
06/18/02: Time to crack down: Where is the outrage?
06/05/02: The next new thing
04/30/02: Roller-coaster nation
04/25/02: A critical tipping point
04/15/02: Israel's endgame will impact the free world
03/21/02: In the face of pure evil
03/14/02: A man on a mission
03/07/02: Land of the Sinking Sun
02/12/02: Speaking truth about energy
01/15/02: Putting our house in order
01/12/02: Talking points for 2002
12/24/01: The shape of things to come
12/11/01: Finally, a clarity of vision
12/04/01: Apocalypse now
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10/22/01: Getting the mayor's message
10/08/01: A remedy for repair
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09/11/01: Running the asylum
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05/25/01: A question of confidence
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05/04/01: Making the grade
04/26/01: The caribou conundrum
04/19/01: Chinese boomerang
03/27/01: The man of the moment
03/20/01: The Fed must be bold
03/15/01: Japan on the brink
03/01/01: Rethinking the next war
02/09/01: The education paradox
01/08/01: How the bottom fell out
01/03/01: Quipping in the new year
12/20/00: A time for healing
11/13/00: The need for legitimacy
10/30/00: Arafat's bloody cynicism
10/18/00: Arafat torches peace
10/03/00: A great step backward
09/08/00: The Perfect Storm
08/29/00: Don't blow the surplus
08/15/00: Voting for grown-ups
08/01/00: Arafat's lack of nerve
07/17/00: Can there be a new peace between old enemies? Or will new enemies regress to an old state of war?
07/11/00: A time to celebrate
06/19/00: A bit of straight talk
06/08/00: Using hate against Israel
05/26/00: Is the Federal Reserve trigger-happy?
04/18/00: Tensions on the 'Net
04/13/00: A paranoid power
03/10/00: Fuel prices in the red zone
02/25/00: Web wake-up call
02/18/00: Back to the future
01/21/00: Whistling while we work
01/11/00: Loose lips, fast quips
12/23/99: The times of our lives
12/14/99: Hey, big spender
11/18/99: Fountain of Youth
11/04/99: An impossible partner
10/14/99: A nation divided
10/05/99: India at center stage
09/21/99: Along with good cops, we need a better probation system
09/08/99: Though plundered and confused, Russia can solve its problems
08/31/99: The military should spend more on forces and less on facilities
08/05/99: Squandering the surplus
07/06/99: More than ever, America's unique promise is a reality
06/24/99: The time has come to hit the brakes on affirmative action
06/15/99: America should take pride in honoring its responsibilities
06/02/99: The Middle Kingdom shows its antagonistic side
05/11/99: Technology's transforming power is giving a lift to everything
05/04/99: The big game gets bigger
04/30/99: On Kosovo, Russia talked loudly and carried a small stick
04/21/99: No time to go wobbly
04/13/99: The Evil of two lessers

© 2001, Mortimer Zuckerman