December 18, 2003
Saddam’s only been in custody a few days, and already the French and Germans have become oddly compliant:
Germany and France have agreed to a US request to write off a large part of Iraq's huge $US120 billion debt ($A162 billion).
President Jacques Chirac, of France, and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, of Germany, reached a deal in separate talks with President George Bush's new envoy in Iraq, James Baker. The decisions were taken in spite of anger felt in both countries over Mr Bush freezing out French and German companies from the $US18 billion in construction contracts in Iraq, apparently as punishment for opposing the war.
”In spite” of anger, but “because of” ... what? Saddam’s trial is awaited with interest.
UPDATE. In other shocking Saddam developments, Lawrence Haws spies something in Robert Fisk’s latest column:
This was the occasion when Saddam drove my colleague Tony Clifton into central Baghdad in his own Range Rover and challenged him to find a single man who opposed his rule.
Fisk and Tony Clifton were colleagues?
Posted by Tim Blair at December 18, 2003 02:01 AM
France and Germany don't have anything to hide, they're morally upright countries....
Here's my little conspiracy theory. Baker went there and said,
"See, no money for you, but you can still get in on the subcontracting (worth billions of US taxpayer money). Well, right now you can compete for it, that can all change very quickly depending on you (France, Germany, Russia)."
That's my conspiracy theory. As to any evidence that the Axis of Weasals was supporting Saddam, I think their support of Saddam over the US already shows that, and enough evidence has already leaked out showing their perfidy so that any more that comes out is just icing on the cake.
I wonder if we had a little conversation with Chirac that went something like "If you see the light on this debt forgiveness thing, we won't question him too closely about the TotalFinaELF contracts..."
I said the same thing on my blog today. Just not with the same brevity and wit as you did.
I said the same thing on my blog today. Just not with the same brevity and wit as you did.
I wonder what was in Saddam's briefcase?
Henry Kissinger explained it all on Fox News this morning. The alternative to forgiving some of the debt was getting nothing. Baker had an easy sell with no arm twisting needed.
As far as I can make out Saddam had cash spread all over that country...certainly plenty around to build statues of himself and lots of fancy palaces. Yet Iraq has an enormous external debt led (if you extract the Arabs) by France and Russia. I'll bet Germany's in there too but it's hard to get a grip on the numbers. Any way I look at it, money being fungible, these foreign creditors (with the honourable exception of Kuwait) have been made fools of and should be parted from their money. It's possible the same thing has occurred to the leadership hence the compliance.
Those unknown unknowns are a real mind bender and provide a strong incentive to take preventive action just in case something horribly damaging emerges from Saddam's mouth.
What I'm curious about is what, where and how much blackmail data does Saddam have on France, Germany and Russia? That Saddam must have such information and it would be expressly for blackmail is entirely in keeping with his character and past.
So. Where's the smoking gun? Perhaps in the briefcase?
I'm beginning to feel that the U.S. is no longer playing the role of patsy to the continental. Okay, I've felt like this since Bush took control and it just feels better every day.
If I'm not mistaken, France surrendered on the debt reduction issue within 24 hours of the announcement that Saddam had been captured alive and well. Chirac knows that Saddam knows some dirty secrets involving France and/or Chirac, and that he will spill them to save his neck. The U.S. will keep quiet about what it learns from Saddam, as long as Chirac cooperates. Expect to see the U.S. and France announce "new understandings" soon, and France to get some token part of those Iraq contracts.
I also suspect that the Europeans have a lot more respect for James Baker who, unlike Powell, actually sees his mission as representing the policy goals of his boss. His presentation (unlike Powell's) was unlikely to have left the Europeans with the nagging hope that they might somehow be able to stick it to the Bush Administration.
I also recall catching a blurb in the news where de Villepin stated something to the effect of, "Now that Saddam's been caught, Bush's reelection is virtually assured, so we might as well start trying to get along."
My goodness it feels nice to have such a large piano dangling over the heads of the Euroweasels. One wrong move and the frog gets it, see?
NO BLOOD FOR FRANCE.
NOT ONE DIME FOR FRENCH COMPANIES.
THIS IS NOT UN MONEY.
THIS IS NOT IRAQI MONEY.
wE'LL SPEND IT AS WE PLEASE.
"France surrendered" on the Iraq debt issue. This is not news, just repeating a pattern.
The conversation may have gone something like this:
Baker: Forgive Iraq's debt.
Baker: We just arrested Saddam, who you've been in bed with for years. Forgive Iraq's debt.
Hate to upset anyone, but the U.S. supplied Iraq with plenty during its war with Iran. Hussein could reveal that too...and it wouldn't make the U.S. look any better than France, Russia, or Germany.
Between the mid eighties to mid nineties the US gave around 200 million for arms. The french, Russia and China gave significantly more. The US has not a lot to worry about when you consider that the Danes gave more around the same period.
The difference was there were no UN sanctions against selling weapons to Iraq at that time.
OOH, none of us here KNEW that, Alex Guy! Look, maroon, Hussein doesn't NEED to reveal that since we did it quite openly in the 1980s - nothing backroom about it.
The differences are, of course that a) we didn't flagrantly flout UN sanctions to do so, b) we genuinely regretted the mess we made using Saddam as a proxy in the Cold War, and c) we did something about cleaning up the mess after we'd made it.
All of those make us morally superior to the Europeans in every way on this issue.
I heard it reported on FoxNews that the vast majority of the Iraqi debt is owed to middle eastern creditors, not Europe. It seems Russia, France, and Germany own only a combined total of roughly 8 billion of it. This might not be capitulation on their part. It is good to remember they agreed to negotiate on the debt, but firm figures of how much debt they will forgive have not been announced yet.
What is it w/ these memes and the people who peddle them?
All of a sudden, the "US was just as guilty as France and Germany" s*** has been all-aflutter again.
Okay, one more time:
For the period, roughly, 1980-1990
Soviet Union---$25BILLION in arms sales
China---$9BILLION in arms sales
France---$5BILLION in arms sales
The United States? Depending on whose figures you use, between $100-$200 MILLION. That's million, as in a fraction of France and the USSR's sales.
The main US support during the Iran-Iraq War was intelligence, NOT arms.
So, actually, yes, we'd look a LOT better than France or the USSR.
As for post-'91, well, lessee what the French and Russians wind up denying....
"Hate to upset anyone, but the U.S. supplied Iraq with plenty during its war with Iran"
Uh, no ... the "revealing" would be nothing more than regurgitating well known and documented support ... which involved primarily Russian and French equipment. That's right, the outnumbered Iraqis were using primarily Russian equipment, and the Iranians had American equipment and training. Iraqi MiG, Super-Etendard, and Mirage aircraft. Exocet missiles. Where were all the F4 Phantoms and F14s? Oh, Iran was using them?"Hussein could reveal that too...and it wouldn't make the U.S. look any better than France, Russia, or Germany."
...who were still supporting Iraq 9 months ago, against .... who, exactly?
European perfidy at its finest.
I bet you that French and German politicians are taking one of those red pills every morning since the weekend hoping to wake up from this evil matrix.
Unfortunately if you do take the red pill you get to see how deep the rabbit hole goes - however as we all now know it is only 8 feet deep!
"the U.S. supplied Iraq with plenty during its war with Iran."
Um, Alex Guy; we also supplied Iran with plenty of munitions and spare parts during it's war with Iraq. Ain't we stinkers? Seems we hated both sides.
It was quite the scandal at the time and they called it "Iran-Contra".
Go google it in your school's library at recess.
The French, Germans, and Russians really only have two options:
1. Insist on the debt being paid. This results in being cut out of doing business in Iraq for a very long time. Not a good option as Iraq will have money to spend.
2. Forgive the debt. This results in NOT being cut out of doing business in Iraq.
Maybe James Baker went to Europe and explained these realities. (And explained further that these are exactly the sentiments of the Iraqi Governing Council also.)
Every international banker has a nightmare that goes like this: he's sitting in front of a desk negotiating with a central bank official representing a country that has just undergone a revolution.
The official looks at the banker and says, "Why did you lend money to that war criminal?"
Google "Paris Club" and "London Club" and you'll see there will soon be a lot of dreams come true.
David, I think you left out the corollary to your option 1:
1. Insist on the debt being paid. This results in being cut out of doing business in Iraq for a very long time.
1a. Lose that money when Iraq repudiates debts incurred by a dictator. Still get cut out of doing business because they're even more pissed at you.
Not a good option as Iraq will have money to spend because they didn't pay back those bad debts.
"only a combined total of roughly 8 billion of it"
Geeze, I couldn't even write a sentence that has the words "only 8 billion"... Still seems like more than chicken feed to me...And relieving any debt would help, but hey I'm know economist...
The dainty moralists who disdain our having supplied Iraq with arms, intelligence, or whatever else during the Iran-Iraq war don't consider the end, which was: to play Iran and Iraq off of each other, to the greater destruction and better containment of both.
IIRC, the US gave a bit less aid to Iraq as that other military superpower, Sweden.
The link to the Fisk article is truly amazing. LOOK at what Fisk said they KNEW 25 YEARS AGO about Saddam.
" Needless to say, every quivering serf brought before my friend for interrogation offered to give both his blood and his soul for the father figure of the Baathist revolution standing beside him."
"But we knew all about him, the raping rooms, the tooth extractors, the knives and the concrete hanging chambers with their clanging doors, and the execution pits. His suits were finer now, French-made, better-cut, gray rather than brown. He had even learned how to smoke a Havana -- between two fingers rather than four fingers and thumb."
And all he can say is that we might have had a chance if we had acted then to depose Saddam.
AS IF he would have supported that then. And nice (appropriate touch with the Havana thing - I am sure he feels the same way about Castro). THEY HAVE NO EXCUSE.
And we won't have an excuse when N Korea falls and we learn more of the atrocities there. And Cuba. And________.
I believe the main dollar value of equipment sold to Iraq in the 80's by US was Vietnam era helicopters typically used for air ambulances and traffic reports.
The link is outrageous and nauseating.
"If only we'd gotten rid of him 15---20 years ago."
Yes, Mr. Fisk. And WHO, WHO insisted that getting rid of him was the WRONG thing to do? Who insisted that there weren't even American troops at Baghdad airport, when they finally came to do what should have been done long ago?
Is there ONE ARTICLE, Mr. Fisk, that you've written calling for this man's ouster?