Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Dirt Under The Desert Sheets?

One theory that has gained some currency as to why France and Germany are opposing an Iraq incursion, even to the point of endangering their memberships in NATO, is that an incursion would result in the release of evidence that both countries have unseemly and/or illegal dealings with Iraq not already known.

This theory seems improbable, to say the least, although such dealings might well exist beyond what the public knows.

But it is highly likely that the United States and British intelligence services are already aware of any such dealings - which would have to be recorded in both Iraq and Europe. If the United States already knows of such dealings, then persistent Franco-German intransigence only increases the risk that Washington or London will release the information to the public. Such a move would delegitimize the arguments of both countries and, more importantly, create a high risk that highly placed individuals in French and German governments - including Messrs, Chirac and Schroeder - would be disgraced and/or displaced.

So any relevant clandestine dealings would have to be so secret that neither Washington nor London could know about them. But such dealings are presumed to be commercial in nature, not defense secrets or the like. Maintaining airtight security on a major commercial project to the point of deceiving both the United States and Britian is a fools errand. For example, are all the project's communications supposed to evade monitoring and be kept in strictest code? Iraq couldn't even manage that for the United Nations inspector burlesque. One could go on and on.

In my view, the proponents of such theories should dream a better dream.

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