Tuesday, November 05, 2002

This article from National Review Online provides an interesting perspective on why exactly the French, both left- and right-wingers, are screaming bloody murder that the Americans want to take over Iraqi oil: because French companies control at least 23% of it and are afraid that a post-Saddam government would void said contracts. Well, that probably would be a consequence of a war against Iraq, but getting oil drilling or exploring contracts for American companies is not the business of the United States government, strange as that may sound to French (or Spanish) ears. America doesn't care whose company drills or refines or does whatever to the oil as long as it makes it to the world market. Hell, our boycott of Iraq shows that we can live just fine without Iraqi oil. And if what we wanted to do was grab said oil, wouldn't we logically already have done it many years ago?

What the French are doing when they ascribe base motives to the Americans is simply projecting what they would do in such a situation. They would do what they thought was in the interests of France, whether that was moral or right or not. They would go to war for 23% of Iraqi oil, so they think we would, too. The abovementioned article points that France sold some $20 billion worth of jet fighters and the like to Saddam's Iraq, and the French government is a part-owner of the French aerospace industry. This means that Mitterand and Chirac and Jospin and Juppé thought the profit they could make off selling arms to one of the world's nastiest dictators was in the interest of France. They all probably figured that it wasn't too likely that a Frenchman would get within target range of any of these weapons anyway.

But, cry the French and their Spanish acolytes like La Vanguardia's José Martí Gómez, the Americans are the ones who armed Iraq! Well, first, if that was true, then why wasn't Iraq using American arms against us in the Gulf War? Second, it's true that America, figuring that what we were really rooting for in the Iraq-Iran War was for both sides to lose, "tilted" toward whichever side we thought was behind. Remember the Iran-Contra scandal? What that was all about was selling arms to the Ayatollah, if we remember correctly mostly Soviet-made formerly Arab equipment captured by the Israelis in one of their many wars, with which to fight Iraq, and sending the money to fund the contras in Nicaragua. We were arming the Iranians as well as the Iraqis, mostly at different times and in smallish quantities.

There are a couple of France-based conspiracy theories going on in Continental Europe. One involves a supposed spy satellite operation called Echelon run by the CIA and MI5 or 6 or whichever it is and, like, Australia and Canada and New Zealand are involved. The English-speaking conspirators spy on France and steal French industrial secrets, with which they perfidiously make more money than the Jacques Brel-listening surrender monkeys. We have no idea whether there is any truth at all in this story. We doubt it. Another one is Operation Condor, which was supposedly a plot through which the United States organized the military juntas that ran much of South America in the late 1970s. Again, we doubt it. Another is a supposed smear job on "Latin" ex-Francoist Juan Antonio Samaranch by the "Anglo-Saxon" press; the French and Spanish and Italians are convinced that Samaranch is their man and all the corruption talk is just the jealous Anglos trying to get the Latin guy. A very common theory with no basis at all is that the Americans set the prices for such goods as coffee, forcing the Latin American peasantry into poverty by holding down prices. This one quite obviously orignated in Latin America and spread from there into Spain, France, and Italy.

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