Skip to comments.France now a major trading partner of Iraq (Let's give France back to Germany!)
Posted on 02/26/2003 3:34:54 PM PST by tm22721
Michael Campbell Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, February 25, 2003 ADVERTISEMENT
I find it curious that the distaste for violence, torture and war on display during last week's peace marches doesn't seem sufficient to encourage a single march demanding that Saddam Hussein stop his grotesque human rights violations and comply with the UN resolutions in order to prevent war.
For many, bashing America is much more fun -- at least for some of the organizing groups of last week's peace marches, like International Answer, Raise the Fist and the Anti-Imperialist League, who, it is fair to say, are not big fans of capitalism.
The CBC is currently running a series of ads broadcasting their investigation into the motives of the United States in the Iraqi tensions. High on the list of motivating factors are American business interests. Those demanding a more balanced discussion might want to note that a similar line of questioning regarding the motivations of the other big players is not in the offing.
I won't hold my breath to see a review of French President Jacques Chirac's extensive business ties with Saddam, stretching back 26 years to his sale of two nuclear reactors to Iraq with enough weapons-grade uranium to build three or four nuclear bombs.
Chirac also spearheaded a $1.5-billion weapons deal with Saddam which included 60 Mirage F1 fighter planes, surface-to-air missiles and advanced electronics. The man who hugged the murderer Robert Mugabe this past week has regularly referred to Hussein as his "close personal friend."
More recently in July, France signed a $5.3-billion deal with Iraq for non-oil related goods and services. Last year, Chirac's France made more money out of the UN's oil for food program than any other nation, and has consistently lobbied for reduced sanctions.
When the U.S. and Britain demanded tough controls to ensure the increased oil revenues would not be used to buy arms, the French objected, saying such controls would undermine Iraqi sovereignty. Since 1996, France has sold directly or indirectly $14 billion worth of French goods to Iraq.
I won't hold my breath for a march denouncing France's huge role in selling weapons to Iraq and financing Saddam's brutal regime's efforts to stay in power, but France isn't the only nation with business interests in Iraq. Russia is owed $20 billion by Saddam's regime. Do you think a new government would want to honour those obligations? Maybe the Russians don't want to take a chance and find out.
Just over two weeks ago Russia signed a $200-million US contract with Iraq in the areas of transportation and communications. Several months ago it signed a $1.52-billion deal.
No nation has done more business since 1996 with Iraq in the oil-for-food program.
According to the UN, Russia's scope of the business with Iraq surpassed $4.5-billion US in the past six years. The United Nations also goes on to point out that it has approved, under the oil-for-food program, 798 contracts between France and Iraq, 862 contracts for Russia and 227 contracts with China.
It's open to debate whether these business interests have influenced Russian, French and Chinese opposition to American-led military intervention, or whether oil interests are influencing America's actions.
Unfortunately, only latter debate is on the agenda, which underscores the growing evidence that a broader anti-capitalist, anti-American sentiment is fuelling much of the anti-war protests.
The Vichy in charge have already done it.
I can hear it now: "We took what didn't belong to us and we're sorry. You can have France back now. "
(Wonder if they should do a pre-surrender drill to prepare for this eventuality?)
Palais de l'Elysee
55, rue du Fg. St-Honore'
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