Jewish World Review April 2, 2003 / 29 Adar II, 5763
Chirac and Saddam's thugs are two of a kind
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | 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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