Friday, February 14, 2003

The French Connection

“The French prime minister, Jacques Chirac, had visited Baghdad in December 1974 amid much pomp. Vice President Saddam offered to take care of Chirac’s visit and in their several meetings the two men enjoyed an unexpected rapport, much to the surprise of the traveling French entourage. At the end of the visit the French prime minister warmly embraced Saddam, calling him ‘a personal friend’, a returned home with a sheaf of lucrative contracts (for weaponry) worth 15 billion francs. One of them was the deal to supply the brand new reactor.”

Brighter Than the Baghdad Sun,” published in 1999, page 74

Why does the anti-war left cite U.S. involvement with Saddam Hussein and overlook France’s much deeper roots? The current administration certainly doesn’t support Saddam now, why wouldn’t the left welcome this change of heart? More importantly, why isn’t France’s more obvious interest in protecting Saddam more widely publicized and criticized?

Is there evidence of greater collaboration between Chirac’s government and Saddam’s hidden in a file cabinet somewhere in Baghdad? Perhaps something that would damage Chirac’s long political career just as he gets ready to coast into the history books?

Certainly this would explain why France is going to such extraordinary lengths to avoid coalition troops from exerting any kind of control over a post-Saddam Iraq. Damage the prestige of the U.N? Cripple the NATO alliance? Paint yourself into a diplomatic box with no apparent exit strategy?

I wonder what’s worth all that effort? I guess we’ll find out pretty soon.

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