Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Heh. A Poli Sci Professor at Duke is arguing that France and Russia be frozen out of Iraq.

Consider Russia, which is not a democracy. The highly respected non-governmental organization, Freedom House, reports annually on the status of democratic institutions and civil liberties in more than 200 countries. After a careful assessment, it places each country in one of three categories: "not free" (for example, China); "partly free" (for example, Ethiopia), and "free" (such as Canada). In the most recent Freedom House online report, Russia is classified as a "partly free" country. From the viewpoint of political reconstruction, no one can take seriously a Russian claim that it has something positive to offer a postwar Iraq.

What about France? Its officials and intellectual elite like to argue their country is a model for the world when it comes to liberty and democracy.

Well, whatever French politics and government may be like at home, French foreign policy has been indifferent to democracy abroad.

We can see this most clearly in comparing what has happened to France's former colonies to that of Great Britain. Of the 25 former French colonies analyzed by Freedom House, only two (8 percent of the total) were "free" during 2002. In contrast, 18 of the former British colonies (32 percent of the total) were in the "free" category.

Conversely, 11 former French colonies (more than 40 percent of the total), were "not free" in 2002, while 15 former British colonies (27 percent of the total) were "not free" that year.

Perhaps the reply from France will be that, however disgraceful its colonial legacy might be, its leaders now work with vigor and success through international bodies to promote democracy. That claim, however, does not hold water.

Why do France and Russia want to be in Iraq? Two reasons: money and oil.

Russia holds $8 billion in IOUs from the Saddam government. Russia also made contracts with Saddam, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, to develop oil fields in Iraq containing perhaps 15 percent of total Iraqi oil reserves.

France has contracts that would allow it to control 20 percent or more of those reserves. For France and Russia, Iraq is an oil well, not a home for people who have suffered under a brutal dictator.

Finally, we should remember it was France who sold Saddam a nuclear facility for what was clearly an illegal weapons program. It was France and Russia who undermined the U.N. sanctions against Iraq during the late-1990s. And it was France and Russia who tried to shield Saddam from his day of reckoning.

For the sake of the Iraqi people, and their quest for a just future, France and its new friend Russia should be kept out of Iraq for as long as possible.

< email | 4/16/2003 12:05:00 PM | link

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