Now that it’s become clear that France and Germany are blocking military action against Saddam Hussein, pundits are offering all kinds of improbable speculations as to motive.
“Both countries are more worried about maintaining their sweetheart business deals with Saddam than stopping weapons proliferation,” writes conservative Laura Ingraham.
Where is the evidence? Even if the amount of business these countries did with Iraq were significant–which I doubt it is–France and Germany are hardly business-friendly countries. No, this is Laura Ingraham trying to tar the leftists with their own brush–if they perpetually speculate, with no evidence, that Big Money is behind the latest venality, then she can do the same to them–with equal lack of substance.
The New York Times’ William Safire offers a cleverer, more convoluted explanation:
Chirac had made a deal with the U.S. last fall: we agreed to postpone the invasion of Iraq until after U.N. inspectors had been jerked around long enough to satisfy the world street’s opinion, and in return France would not demand a second U.N. resolution before allied forces overthrew Saddam.
As D-Day approached, France sent its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the coming war zone….
Then Schröder, reliant on his militantly antiwar Greens, made Chirac an offer he could not refuse: to permanently assert Franco-German dominance over the 23 other nations of Continental Europe.
In a stunning power play in Brussels, Germany and France moved to change the practice of having a rotating presidency of the European Council, which now gives smaller nations influence, to a system with a long-term president. This Franco-German czar of the European Union would dominate a toothless president of the European Commission, chosen by the European Parliament….
France then had to repay Schröder by double-crossing the U.S. at the U.N. [New York Times, 1/23/03]
There may be something to Safire’s point, but it’s at most secondary. If Saddam Hussein is indeed a threat to the security of the free world, why are these countries so cavalier about ignoring their own interests?
Both France and Germany have sizable Muslim populations, who will turn vocal and possibly violent if these governments go to war against Iraq; it’s not just the Greens that Schroder has to worry about. But the U.S. has already told the world that we are going to war regardless of what they do. So why should they put their necks on the line when we will clean up the mess anyway? This is another sorry result of Gen. Powell’s appeal to the U.N.
But France and Germany will pay a woeful price for their cravenness. They have tipped their hand. Their Muslim populations now know that these governments will crumble before them; it’s only a matter of time before the “domestic disturbances” start. France and Germany are going to start having much bigger problems with domestic terrorism over the next year or two.