Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Who Knew?

InstaPundit links to this interesting Amiland post as more support for the Den Beste theory that Germany and France are trying to block war in order to cover up the extent of their support.

I fully agree that the Die Welt story that Amiland cites about Germany's recent and extensive business connections with terrorist supporting states is damning, and probably includes information new to the news media.

But that is far from constituting support for the Den Beste theory, which is almost certainly entirely wrong and - to the extent it gains currency - will probably prove to be a significant embarrassment to the pro-liberationist movement. The German/Iraq business connections described in the article are textbook examples of the kind of transactions American and British intelligence analysts track before breakfast every day. That these deals weren't recorded by Germany's Federal Statistical Office - as Amiland notes - would not keep them from the notice of the CIA.

Because US intelligence almost certainly knew about these deals from their inceptions, both Iraq and the US are in a position to blackmail the Germans with these deals. It would be far easier for the French and Germans to reach agreement with the United States to keep these and similar deals secret in exchange for tacit consent to an invasion - or at least for American cooperation is denying the significance of the German/French/Iraqi transactions - than for the Europeans to block the invasion and/or risk the United States revealing the whole mess.

Some of Den Beste's thoughts on Russian motivation are also probably seriously off track:

The Russian position has always been frankly self-interested. They don't pretend to be an ally of ours, but they will cooperate with us when it seems to be in their own interest to do so. I don't mind that, which is why I'm not particularly scandalized or upset that Russia is opposing the war. Russia still hopes to collect on debts from the Soviet period for weapons shipped on credit, and also hopes to take advantage of certain deals made with Saddam for future trade, and they make no bones about it.

Neither the Man Without Qualities nor the world as a whole has any particular problem with nations taking positions that are "frankly self-interested." But, again, it would be a lot easier for the Russians to reach an understanding with the Americans to preserve existing Russian/Iraq deals - including Iraqi obligations to repay their debt to Russia - than to assume the risks inherent in their current position of supporing France and obstructing the US.

If the Russians have economic concerns about a US invasion of Iraq, they would more likely center around what happens to the value of Russian oil reserves if the Iraqi oil fields are brought into full production and the sanctions limiting the sale of Iraqi oil are lifted following the installation of a new Iraqi government. The loss to Russia from those developments would probably dwarf the Iraq/Russian debt.

The French and Germans and even the Russians are creating problems. The first step in solving a problem is frankly understanding what it really is. In my opinion, the Den Beste theories are not that.


Welcome InstaPundit readers. Link apparently due to intercession of Mike Daley.


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