German and French fault for the war

German and French fault for the war
: Below, I linked to an amazing story in Die Zeit quoting U.N. arms inspectors saying that German (and French, Russian, and Chinese) refusal to back military force in the U.N. defanged and doomed their effort and made war inevitable. Mind you, this comes from U.N. arms inspectors.

I wasn’t sure I had translated it correctly (if only I’d paid more attention in Frau T’s class!). So I went to my good blog friend Thomas Nephew, who translated the whole thing, and now it’s even clearer that this is an important piece of reporting — all the more amazing for coming from a German paper.

For Thomas’ translation and his savvy comments (plus the translation of a related story about German responsibility) click here. Some excerpts:

Could this war have been prevented? Yes, say some [inspectors]. But with a surprising argument: Germany, France and Russia made war unavoidable with their purported peace politics. Gerhard Schroeder’s categorical ‘no’ to military deployment was simply “crazy.” “We might have been able to fulfill our mandate,” one hears in the hotel lobby….

The 120 inspectors noticed soon, though, that they would not reach their goal without the full cooperation of Iraqis. But they waited in vain to be approached. A warning presentation by Hans Blix on January 15 in the Security Council didn’t change things. Iraq made its first concessions when Secretary of State Colin Powell presented sensational pictures, videos, and tape recordings of mobile bioweapons labs, rocket launching ramps, and munitions bunkers. And as the American threat of war became more and more clear and found more support….

Blix delivered a more conciliatory situation assessment on February 14. This was the basis for Germany, France and Russia to speak of “functioning inspections” and to increasingly distance themselves from America and Great Britain. The governments in Berlin, Paris, and Moscow felt confirmed in the conviction that their peace strategy would lead to success.

The inspectors in Baghdad saw things completely differently: their position was suddenly weakened….

The officials in Baghdad only became more cooperative when military pressure increased. Rhetoric never impressed Saddam Hussein, the inspectors say, the deeper the quarrels split the international community, the surer he felt more himself….

Success was less a question of time than one of the credible threat of the use of force. [emphasis added] “Where,” the inspectors ask today, “were the teeth?” More time, the demand of Germany and France for inspections, would have been well and good. But: “They should have sent their own troops and ships.”…

History will judge every party in this war and whether they like it or not, Germany, France, Russia, and China are parties to this war.

It would not have harmed them to send a token gaggle of soldiers to the Mideast — just a few clerks without guns, even — to show united resolve to truly disarm Saddam. But by standing on some skewed sense of principle (Saddam over Bush, tyranny over democracy, Iraq over the U.S.), they made the disarmament they said they wanted impossible to reach, they made war inevitable.

  • Jeff, here is an interview with Mr. Blix –
    It is also in German.
    He told mostly about US role in unsuccessful inspections.

  • Diane

    The inspectors shouldn’t be underestimated. Blix and the others meant that if the Security Council stuck together and made a reasonable deadline for commencing war TOGETHER, anything good (exile for Sadam,assassination of Sadam, surrender, etc.) could have arisen. Apart, the SC only encouraged the dictator to play tricks.
    I thought this was a liberal website but you pick on the French, the universal scapegoat. Look at the hundreds of nations opposed to war. In only one nation did a majority of the people back the leaders who supported war. This is Israel, and what are they doing to help the American and British young people they help put in harm’s way?

  • enloop

    >> In only one nation did a majority of the people back the leaders who supported war…
    Name a country that’s held a referendum on the war. Polls don’t count.

  • osasha

    I can drink French wine again! I can drink German beer again!! We can all drink good stuff again!!! They played this one beautifully!!!! Of course, “Germany, France, Russia, and China are parties to this war”! Of course, “they made war inevitable”! “As soon as divisions (between Western powers) appeared, (Baghdad’s) cooperation diminished”, says one inspector. But didn’t divisions appear as soon as cooperation increased? That’s why the more Bush pushed for military solution, the more France and Germany insisted that “inspections are working”! That’s why this “confrontation between allies” reached almost insane proportions. Saddam was caught right in the middle; the only choice he ever had was whether to fight the mighty US or surrender to impotent inspectors. Everybody wanted Saddam gone for good: US, EU, even Russia, even China. Now he is finished and nobody hurt their re-election chances. He was kept guessing and forced not to make the right choices. He thought he was a player, but he was a puppet. Presented with united West he might have surrendered and disarmed; and then it would be difficult to take him out, he could even remain in control of Iraq. So the West was divided, for the time being. I’ll drink to that. Prosit! Au sante! Na zdorovie!