Putting the opposition to war in perspective

I’m going to reverse a little and spout off on the French, Russian and German opposition to a war on Iraq. Frankly, the media is giving me the impression that those countries are against the war on purely altruistic principles. It doesn’t take much scratching below the surface to see that this is not true, and that French, Russian and German opposition is (gasp!) grounded in pure self-interest.

Russia has long-standing economic interests in Iraq. In 1972, Moscow and Baghdad signed a treaty of friendship that paved the way for large-scale Soviet arms sales to Iraq, as well as for the employment of thousands of Soviet experts in that country. As a result, Iraq owes Russia about $8-billion. Russia was one of Iraq’s largest trading partners before sanctions were imposed. Given that, Russia is not likely to quickly concede to a war effort, despite U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s evidence of a link between Chechnya and al-Qaeda.

France has the closest trade links with Iraq of any country in Europe. Some 5% of French oil imports still come from Iraq. France has also supplied military and nuclear technology to Iraq in the past. Of course, many Western countries can boast supporting Iraq’s military at one point or another.

Germany, as well as France, is against a war on Iraq because, and this is a shocker, a vast majority of its citizens oppose the war. Who would have thought that a nation’s leaders could represent the will of its people? (Canadian politicians should take note when deciding whether to side with or against the United States.) Oddly enough, that was all I could find on Germany’s opposition to the war. French ties to Iraq were easy to find, given the tendency of the American media towards France-bashing. Update: Germany was the hub of Iraq’s military purchases in the 1980s, (via Alec Saunders .LOG).

Lastly, a little perspective on the Iraqi threat:

Having confronted the giants of the past, who could have imagined the United States, the biggest military power in history, worried silly over some two-bit tyrant who might have a canister or two of poison gas hidden somewhere or who, years from now, might get a pint-sized nuclear weapon.

…

Mr. Powell made no reference to the fact that, while Washington has become paranoid about chemical and biological weapons, (a) the United States rejected an international biological weapons pact two years ago, (b) Mr. Hussein had bio-chem weapons available in the gulf war but didn’t use them, (c) when he did use such weapons in the 1980s, the U.S., then a semi-supporter of Mr. Hussein, gave him the old wink wink, and (d) for all the fear that Washington is trying to generate over these weapons, the death toll in modern times is greater from the flu bug and soccer hooliganism.

What a large post about nothing special.

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