During the run-up to the outbreak of war in Iraq, the liberal media seemed openly sympathetic with the French, German and Russian opposition to the use of force to disarm Saddam Hussein. The media continue to provide extensive coverage of anti-war protests in European capitals and public opinion polling in France and elsewhere hoping for an Iraqi victory. The French and German governments have offered lukewarm support for the coalition, but French officials continue to snipe at the Bush administration and claim that the war is immoral.
But our media have ignored a significant article that appeared recently in the German press entitled “The German Blame for the War.” Two German reporters interviewed United Nations weapons inspectors in Cyprus, where they are now based after being withdrawn from Iraq. The inspectors are under a gag order from UN headquarters in New York, but spoke to the German reporters anyway.
Who’s to blame for the outbreak of war, according to some UN inspectors? Germany, France, and Russia. The inspectors charge that opposition by these three governments to U.S. diplomatic efforts made war inevitable. They say that after they re-entered Iraq last November, the Iraqis continued their policy of denial and obstruction of mandated weapons inspections. That changed, however, after U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the Security Council in February that laid out the case for Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.
After that, the inspectors say that Iraq made its first concessions to the inspectors. They were able to interview Iraqi scientists without minders present and the Iraqis turned over some documents previously denied to them. For the first time, the inspectors were optimistic that they could uncover hidden weapons programs and disarm Saddam Hussein. Critical to the success of their mission, however, was the increasing U.S. military presence in the Gulf region. They are convinced that was the main reason for Iraq’s sudden willingness to cooperate.
These hopes were dashed later in February, however, when chief inspector Hans Blix gave the Security Council an upbeat assessment of the progress to date. That enabled the French, Germans, and Russians to claim that the inspections were working and to increase their opposition to U.S. and U.K. proposals for a harder diplomatic line toward Iraq. But Saddam Hussein promptly reversed course and the inspections fell back to the old pattern of denial and obstruction. The inspectors concluded that Iraq monitored the growing diplomatic rift between the U.S. and its allies. As European opposition to the U.S. position grew, they say that Iraqi cooperation diminished.
So who is to blame for the outbreak of war? The inspectors leave no doubt that misguided French and German “peace policies” made war inevitable. They fault the Germans and the French for not sending their own troops to the region. They said, “every demand for a peaceful solution reduced the pressure on Iraq and made peace more unlikely.” Saddam Hussein thought that the French and Germans would save him. He thought wrong.