I don’t want to brag, but it took me only a couple of seconds to see through last weekend’s harebrained peace plan cooked up by Schroeder and Chirac. That has nothing to do with superhuman powers of perception; living in Weasel Central I simply have more practice watching them and know which way they’ll jump in any given situation. This plan has the sole purpose of showing French and German voters that those two are doing their utmost to prevent the war and aren’t the ones to blame when it inevitably comes to pass. Some American bloggers, lacking my expertise with small furry mammals were suckered into fearing this may derail the Bush Administration’s carefully laid plans. They couldn’t have known how impotent and at the end of the day inept our politicians really are. Then again, for all their inability to achieve anything themselves they are still adept at throwing spanners into other people’s works. Their willingness to plumb new depths surprised even me. They acquired a little sidekick (a weaselette?) and blocked Turkey’s access to defensive equipment by their vetoes. Actually, only France and Belgium vetoed the decision. Germany merely let it be known that it “approves” of the French-Belgian decision, but timed its motion in such a way that it still amounted to a veto in practice. At the same time Schroeder is sending Patriot launchers and missiles to Turkey, just like the Netherlands, but they will be manned by Dutch soldiers; Turkey will also be guarded with AWACS planes, but these are going to have German crewmen on board. In hindsight I have to say this is vintage Schroeder; he doesn’t even have to fake the courage of his convictions by vetoing the decision himself, he can tell his voters that Germany will neither be involved directly nor via NATO while still helping Turkey to get the equipment it wants without putting German soldiers on the ground there. This begs the question what kind of mind it takes to come up with such a convoluted scheme; at this point Chirac must feel pretty uneasy when meeting his good buddy Gerhard. The Bush Administration for its own part seems to have given up any attempts to bring Schroeder around and is now apparently just minimizing the damage he can do until he has to leave office. The readiness of France and Germany to accept severe diplomatic, political and to a lesser extent economic damage as a price for their intransigence has renewed suspicions that France and Germany are trying to hide some terrible secret that would come out once the files in Baghdad are open to American and British investigators.Taking this premise to its logical conclusion this secret would have to be the arming of Iraq with WMD by Germany and France in order to use it as a proxy against America or at the very least the sale of equipment for the making of WMDs by German and French firms, with the official approval of both governments, just as Lexington spelled it out in this post. I myself am still convinced that the motivation for this behavior is electoral and financial opportunism, just as I wrote here. Schroeder and Chirac know very well that they can’t stop the war on Iraq, but for their own purposes it is enough to show the voters back home that they tried everything they could to stop it. Chirac also is trying to increase his bargaining power, so that the French industry’s contracts with and investments in Iraq won’t be lost after the war. From the point of view of Schroeder and Chirac it is consistent with their former words and deeds to block any help for Turkey via NATO because officially preparing for the war would undercut their pretense that it still is preventable. Those claiming that France and Germany intentionally made Iraq a country armed with WMDs also cite as evidence Iraq’s declaration of its weapons programs, leaked to the Tageszeitung and translated by Deutsche Welle, and also an article by the former head of the Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. Then again: Even if a firm illegally delivered such technology to Iraq it doesn’t mean that that country’s government knew of it or approved of it, much less was or is wishing to make Iraq a regional power with WMDs. These articles also aren’t the whole story. If you want to know which firms supplied Iraq, go to the Wisconsin Project’s Database of Iraq’s Suppliers and simply type in China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and United States to see lists of firms from these countries. The biggest number of firms comes from Germany, but with exceptions that was before Gulf War I. Back then Iraq was seen as a kind of bulwark against Iran and nobody was expecting that Saddam would employ use these weapons to occupy Kuwait and attack Israel. It makes no sense to retroactively interpret the events in the 80s in the light of Schroeder’s and Chirac’s behavior today. One more thing: At the time Helmut Kohl was Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder’s direct predecessor, one of the most pro-American German politicians. It is simply ludicrous to think that he would that have wanted to use Saddam against America, especially during the Cold War, even more so than it is ludicrous today to assume the same about Schroeder and Chirac. To conclude: Schroeder’s and Chirac’s behavior is stupid and wrong, but Germany and France haven’t become enemies of America, as some bloggers maintain, even if they aren’t behaving as allies should. Some firms may have broken the embargo, but there is no sinister plan to turn Saddam into a weapon against America.