Why France and Germany Secretly Help Iraq
“I have no doubt that he has nukes.”
Referring to Saddam Hussein, with these words former U.N. weapons inspector Bill Tierney staked out his position on Sean Hannity’s nationally televised Radio Talk Show on Dec. 6, 2002. Tierney became renowned for his ability to ferret out Iraqi weapons violations during 1997-98, and was finally accused by the Iraqis of spying for the U.S. and dismissed from the inspection team.
Tierney went on to detail his belief that Iraq has a stockpile of nuclear weapons located at Saddam’s Jabal Makhul presidential palace. He is also convinced that Iraq has a significant hidden stockpile of biological and chemical weapons.
In a follow-on interview on Fox News’ Hannity and Colmes on Jan. 28, 2003, Tierney accused the French of compromising the United Nations’ 1997 inspection effort. According to Tierney, a French member of the team consistently passed information about forthcoming inspection targets to the Iraqis, giving them sufficient time to clear up sites before the inspection arrived.
Back in November, 2002, Jane’s Intelligence Review said the key to success in inspections is to have good intelligence on possible weapons of mass destruction (WMD) sites and then, in Bill Tierney’s words “take that information quickly, turn it round into an inspection which has operational security so that the targets are not leaked and approach that site quickly so that the Iraqis cannot sneak out of the back door.” Jane’s predicted that current United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) rules would make this kind of swift and secure action difficult at best.
The Jan. 27 report by UNMOVIC to the U.N. Security Council was a carefully-worded document couched in diplomatic language that seemed designed to obscure the continuing difficulties UNMOVIC is experiencing. In an impromptu interview by Fox News on Wednesday morning, Jan. 29, Hans Blix specifically denied that any “high level” member of his team was leaking information to Iraq. Even in this denial, however, his diplomatic language left room for alternate interpretations.
The bottom line seems to be that advance inspection information is reaching the Iraqis, and one can conclude from current and past evidence that France is the major source.
Why? Why would a respected nation, permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, stoop to such means?
Stepping back a pace, why would France and Germany put up roadblocks to disarming Saddam?
The simple answer is: Money.
The more complicated answer is: Money coupled with a perception, at least on France’s part, that its position within the world community is being marginalized.
France still revels in its historic role as a world power in a world dominated by England and France. Even following World War II, France retained its front-line role. It was instrumental in forming the United Nations, and its language long ruled as the language of diplomacy the world over.
But no longer. Today English (American) rules.
France and French are of the past. On the other hand, France played the leading role in establishing Iraq’s nuclear capability in Isirah, one that the Israelis destroyed back in 1981. France has a huge stake in maintaining Iraq’s fledgling nuclear capability. It amounts to money, more money, and precious prestige in a world that is increasingly anti-France.
German design and construction companies have played a major role in designing and building Saddam’s various bunkers scattered around Iraq. His main German-designed and built bunker near the center of Baghdad is a suspended structure that can only be taken out by a burrowing bunker-buster nuke. Furthermore, the Germans are currently active in the design and construction of modern nuclear power facilities at Bushehr in Iran, and possibly surreptitiously in Iraq as well.
So, it isn’t just about the German Green movement, and the public’s perception that the German parliament is being held hostage by the radical Greens. German money is at stake, and German prestige, enough of both that UNMOVIC members from Germany have a powerful incentive to maintain the status quo.
This is where diplomacy and its arcane language enters the picture. President Bush states simply that Saddam must prove the absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) that have been earlier identified. Like the hat and boots he wears at his ranch, his approach is simple and direct, and easily understandable.
Once passed through the filter of diplomacy, however, “simple and direct” disappear in obfuscation and subterfuge.
France and Germany can appear to walk the high road, can appear to take the diplomatic path with reasonable sounding phrases and judicious appeals to let diplomacy take its course, while maneuvering in the background to maintain the status quo to protect their vested financial and business interests.
The United States needs to identify these activities openly and specifically, so that the world can see clearly what the French and Germans are actually doing, so that the French and German people can actually see and understand what their governments are doing.
So long as Frenchmen and Germans believe it is about French pride or German environmentalism, they are likely to support their government’s efforts to undermine the inspection efforts. Once they understand, however, what is really happening, once they realize that it is about corporate profit – period – I suspect the French and Germans will solve this problem internally, and refocus their government’s attention to the problem at hand.
Robert G. Williscroft is DefenseWatch Navy Editor