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Matthew Reid: Grandstanding Appeasement

Grandstanding Appeasement

by Matthew Reid

About the only thing missing from the strange scene along the Iraq-Kuwait border late this week was UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan in a black and white striped jersey with a whistle around his neck. Can you hear him? “Off-sides. Iraq. 5-yard penalty. Repeat 1st down.”

Flashback to 1991, Iraqi soldiers surrendering to coalition troops, only this time the war hasn’t even started yet. Like a nervous rookie at the line of scrimmage, this ragtag brigade prematurely jumped the line. It was a bizarre sight, but not hard to believe.

These soldiers, described as poorly equipped and in dreadful physical condition by the British paratroopers they surrendered to, do not want to die for Saddam Hussein. Of course, many people that didn’t want to die for Saddam Hussein have been forced to over the years.

This weekend, conservative radio talk show host and best-selling author, Michael Savage, showed video documentation of Saddam’s brutality on his new MSNBC program. This footage has been available for fifteen years, but received little, if any, exposure prior to Savage’s Saturday broadcast.

The illiberal Left answers the tragic realities of such images with empty clichés. “Of course Saddam is a bad man, but…” or “Yes, we’d be better off if he was gone, but…” or “Yeah, but we armed him…”

But. But. But.

(The appeasers have more buts than Dennis Leary’s ashtray—or the director’s cut of Moulin Rouge.)

But (to borrow a word), however complicit the media is in pacifying Saddam by not showing those pictures, Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix is worse. Prior to Friday’s report to the UN Security Council, Blix had played the role of consummate diplomat; couching whatever criticism he had for Hussein with praise.

Blix handles the Iraqi regime the way American Idol judge Paula Abdul critiques horrible performances. “You look great, you have a really wonderful personality, but (there’s that word again) I just don’t think that was a good representation of your talent.” Someone needs to send Hans a tape of Abdul’s outspoken American Idol partner, Simon Cowell.

On Friday, Mr. Blix’s demeanor went from diplomatic to deplorable when he delivered a draft edition of his report to the Council. The report deliberately withheld details regarding the discovery of an undeclared Iraqi drone capable of dispersing biological agents on coalition troops.

You may recall, Colin Powell revealed test flight footage of an Iraqi drone releasing an unidentified spray during his dramatic presentation to the Council last month. Powell’s report was pooh-poohed by the French and Germans. (And while pooh-pooh perfectly describes what I think of what they think, it’s what they think about what we think that I think really stinks. I’ll pause while you re-read that, if necessary.)

The US and Britain are rightfully outraged at the Blix omission. Why did he fail to disclose the information in his oral testimony to the Security Council and then hide it in the final draft of his 173-page single-spaced report?

Even if you give Blix the benefit of the doubt heretofore, his neutrality is in serious doubt now. By keeping quiet about the Iraqi drone, the diplomatic double talker provided cover to France and company, further facilitating their appeasement grandstanding.

And in the case of France, grandstanding is the most diplomatic way of putting it. In their desperate plea for relevance, they’ve actually found someone they won’t appease. Us. The irony is so thick you can grab your favorite piece of Laguiole out of the drawer and slice it.

Twice during the last century, America and her allies interfered with France’s manifest destiny and on both occasions saved their collective croissants. Now they run interference for Saddam, threatening to use their veto power to block military action, while continuing to trade with the enemy.

The French connection to Saddam goes back to the nuclear reactor French President Jacques Chirac sold to Iraq in the mid-1970s and continues to this day. As late as January, a French company provided parts for Hussein’s French-made Mirage jets and Gazelle attack helicopters—aircraft that will soon be firing at our troops.

And those who think it’s all about oil may be right. Lucrative contracts—oil and otherwise—undoubtedly play a role in France’s position, but thanks to their world-renowned penchant for pacifism their so-called “principled stand for peace” is plausible to many.

Which brings to mind another thing oddly absent from that border scene mentioned above—French businessmen (a common sight in Iraq) hawking authentic white flags to the defecting Iraqi soldiers.


© 2003 Matthew Reid - All Rights Reserved.

Matthew Reid is an internationally syndicated radio host and freelance journalist based in San Francisco, CA. He's broadcast in Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as well as hundreds of cities across the globe on the SupeRadio Network. He is also the editor of Mr. Reid can be reached via email at

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