A couple of days ago Steve Den Beste posted an article in which he speculated that German and French firms might have broken the sanctions and helped Iraq to acquire WMDs, with knowledge and backing by their governments. He went on to make assumptions about possible consequences if any evidence of this should be discovered after the fall of Baghdad. Among the possibilities he listed was the end of NATO, also that of the UN (France is a permanent member in the Security Council, after all), also a trade war or eventually even a real war. What led him to make these speculations and assumptions is the opposition of both countries to a war on Iraq. In his opinion it is much too strong to be adequately explained as pandering for domestic purposes. Since a lot of people have taken up this thought and almost treat Steve’s speculations as if they were fact I feel moved to post my own take on this. Germany and France among others *did* help Iraq to acquire WMDs in the eighties right up to Gulf War I. Here’s an article from last month about the German involvement: Iraqi Report Could Prove Damaging to Germany Germany was Iraq’s number one supplier from 1975 right up to Gulf War I, as far as the number of firms is concerned. In some cases conventional weapons technology was delivered after the war, obviously with kamagrawiki.org complicity of some officials. Even so I can’t imagine that the German government(s) approved of making Iraq a nuclear power (Steve himself calls his considerations highly speculative). Maybe it’s because I can’t take these people seriously, but they aren’t that perfidious (or suicidal, for that matter). Steve is mistaken to think that Schroeder’s foot-dragging can’t be explained by domestic purposes alone. Without the support of the left his party would lose the two state elections at February 2nd that badly that it might replace him with somebody else; they’ll lose anyway, but it depends on how bad they are going to lose. A catastrophic defeat in both states might mean the end of his political career; his predecessor Helmut Kohl was the first Chancellor to lose his office by elections, all others were kicked out by their former supporters during their terms, when they became electoral liabilities. Now to put in a word for France: It is much less involved in the Iraqi WMD programs than Germany and a number of other states. Trying to protect its investments there is legitimate, even if it is questionable to hide this motive behind a grandstanding pose of pacifism. Besides, neither Germany nor France think for a second that they can prevent this war or that the UN could for that matter. Nor does the Bush administration, or its reaction to all this would be much harsher.