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Friday, January 31, 2003

Ochirac!

The Boston Globe cuts to the chase on the U.S. quarrel with France and Germany:

It is all too easy for Americans to sneer at Chirac's sophistry. He is known to disdainful Iraqi exiles as the godfather of France's special relationship with Saddam's police state. Some sardonic spirits refer to Osirak, the nuclear breeder reactor that France built for Saddam and that Israel bombed in 1981, as ''Ochirac.'' So amicable was the relationship between Saddam and Chirac that the Iraqi tyrant told his French confidant that he was going to invade Iran in 1980.

More recently, the French oil company TotalFinaElf has been negotiating an exclusive contract to explore the Majnoon oil field in Iraq, which has estimated reserves of 20 billion to 30 billion barrels. As a reward for the congenial positions it has taken in the Security Council, France has been the number one or two beneficiary each year of commercial contracts that Saddam's government has conferred abroad under the UN's oil-for-food program.

Germany, meanwhile, "was the leading foreign supplier to Saddam of material for weapons and dual-use technology," according to the 12,000-page document the Iraqi government gave to the U.N. Security Council in December.

But the Globe also points out that Bush's father also helped Saddam's government — until Iraq invaded Kuwait. And:

Moreover, the current Bush administration perceives a need to depose Saddam in part because the earlier Bush administration betrayed millions of courageous Iraqis during their uprising against the dictator in March 1991.

That left me feeling queasy at the time, too. But the Globe sees a way for both sides of the faltering alliance to succeed. France's real aim, the paper argues, is insuring multilateral solutions with U.N. authorization:

As a sign that this shaping of a multilateral world order — and not the preserving of Saddam's regime — is the true aim of its conduct, France is also preparing for combat in Iraq 15,000 troops, 50 aircraft, and the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

That's news — but good news — to me. The U.S. must do everything it can to secure U.N. approval. The difference between a "coalition of the willing" and U.N.-authorized force is nothing less than the credibility of international law.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 31 January 2003 at 8:43 AM

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