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Problems for the Axis of Weasel

By Jackson Murphy
web posted January 27, 2003

Two weeks ago there was anti-war protests throughout the world. Last week there was evidence that France had found its cheese eating surrendering mojo as it added its voice to Germany's in the anti-war crowd. It came during the same week as the two nations celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty-marking the friendship of Germany and France.

New York Post coverThe diplomatic duo of France and Germany has been rightly labeled "The Axis of Weasel", first by website Scrappleface.com and later in a headline on the front page of The New York Post. The rumblings of these two nations, basically the equivalent of washed up celebrities, might mark the end of the United Nations. It is clear that the United Nations, now without French support, will not authorize, or even try to authorize military action to disarm Iraq. Effectively this means that the organization will be ignoring its own resolutions-exactly what President Bush challenged the organization to overcome last fall.

A French writer, Noah Sudarsky, reveals in Salon.com the inner workings of the European mind: "The Iraqi imbroglio has crystallized the fears in European public opinion over a U.S.-dominated world. Mainstream Europeans, and not just the tens of thousands of peace activists who have demonstrated daily from Florence to Berlin, want a renegotiation of the global status quo. What is more surprising, however, is that their leaders seem to be embarking on a sweeping effort to achieve just that."

At first glance, you want to scratch your head put on you large cowboy hat and go grab another beer from the fridge and start riding around in your SUV shooting off your gun. What exactly is a renegotiation of the global status quo? Taken at its face, the status quo would be an Iraq that flaunts United Nations resolutions and continues on its hunt for weapons of mass destruction. It is a world where Iraq will not be disarmed, ever.

A new paradigm, what the U.S. is trying to organize now, involves disarming Iraq, with force if necessary. "There is no mystery to voluntary disarmament," National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice wrote recently in The New York Times. "Countries that decide to disarm lead inspectors to weapons and production sites, answer questions before they are asked, state publicly and often the intention to disarm and urge their citizens to cooperate. The world knows from examples set by South Africa, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan what it looks like when a government decides that it will cooperatively give up its weapons of mass destruction. The critical common elements of these efforts include high-level political commitment to disarm, national initiatives to dismantle weapons programs, and full cooperation and transparency."

The question to ask is simple. What happens if the U.S. and its increasingly small posse go into Iraq and Saddam starts to use chemical or biological weapons. What will the forces of appeasement say then? Will that be proof for a post action endorsement by the United Nations? I simply doubt that.

In fact I doubt very much that there will be an apology by all those who said that Iraq didn't have any weapons of mass destruction. And it won't just be the sudden evidence of weapons-whether they are used or not. They will also have to deal with unseen consequences. As Christopher Hitchens suggests in the Mirror: "And when the regime falls, which it will do in any case, there will be some other uncoverings that will astonish the world. Secret prisons, mass graves, bizarre sites and maniac palaces... just you wait."

The consequences of a U.S. led, but non-U.N. authorized, invasion of Iraq will be huge. It will mark a tipping point for the United Nations-a possible League of Nations moment into the ash heap of history. It will completely transcend the entire Mid East region-the possibility of a new model, democratic, westernized Arab nation. And it will expose the hesitant nations Germany and France as the irrelevant nations they have been for years.

To echo Sudarsky, the problem for France and Germany is not Iraq, or weapons of mass destruction, or terrorism, or oil, or Saddam. The problem is that America is willing to do something about these things, solidifying its global importance, entrenching their weakness.

Luckily we are talking about France. "Should it look like Bush will go to war without U.N. approval, France will jettison its principles like so much ballast and sail right along in the American armada's wake, so as not to miss out entirely on the new division of Iraq's petroleum pie," writes Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online.

That is what makes the weasel remark so apt. France, in particular, only does what France wants to do. In a perfect world France would use its U.N. veto, then jump on the U.S. invasion bandwagon all before it was time to sip champagne and eat brie in the afternoon.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He is the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political commentary 24-7. You can contact him at jacksonmurphy@telus.net.

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