Before you contact my office to object to this title, please allow me explain.
In a recent address to the nation, President Bush once again laid out the argument for Saddam Hussein to disarm. Once again the President said a chance for peace was still available, if the international world and the United Nations were unified in confronting and pressuring Iraq to dismantle its weapons program. Unfortunately, one nation has chosen to be the instrument of divisiveness in the U.N. and undermine any real chance for peace.
By working at every level possible to undercut the diplomatic process at the U.N., and also NATO, France has significantly abolished any chance for a peaceful resolution. By creating decisive divisions within these international bodies, France has now become a tool for Saddam Hussein and is being exploited by this regime.
Had France stood with the United States and our allies, there would have been a unified front demonstrating a commitment to ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and freeing the Iraqi people of Saddam Hussein's oppressive regime. Solidarity and the willingness to use force would have increased the chance for peace well beyond what it is today. Consolidation would have placed significantly more pressure not only on Saddam Hussein, but on his generals and nuclear scientists to come clean.
In fact, as an apparent financial ally of Iraq, France would have been in a stronger position to influence Iraq to disarm had they been part of the "coalition of the willing" to begin with. Unfortunately they have chosen to side with the regime by giving Saddam a pass and allowing him to continue this charade of delay tactics.
Many Americans are asking the question: "Why has France taken this position of accepting Iraq's deception, risking the credibility of the U.N., France's most influential platform in the international community?" The answer becomes very clear when looking at the history between France and Iraq.
In 1974, then-French Premier Jacques Chirac met with then-vice president of Iraq Saddam Hussein, to discuss nuclear reactors and technology in exchange for oil and oil rights. These agreements between the two leaders went as far as to provide and train Iraq with nuclear scientists. In addition, France agreed to provide Iraq with two nuclear reactors. Some years later, in 1981, the Israeli government was forced to destroy one of those reactors at the Iraqi Osirak nuclear facility.
And now, today, U.S. intelligence officials are suggesting that a French company has been selling military parts to Iraq for several months. According to officials, these fighter jet and attack helicopter parts are being sold to a company in the United Arab Emirates and then smuggled into Iraq. Even more telling, it is estimated that Iraq still owes France $4 billion as a result of French arms sales and infrastructure projects.
Ultimately ... it is clear that the United States and her close allies will uncover not only evidence of weapons of mass destruction, but also evidence that some of our counterparts have been supplying this murderous regime with weapons and infrastructure. If the French had not engaged in these activities, I believe they would have supported our coalition and helped hold together a unified front providing overwhelming pressure on Saddam to disarm and eventually opening the door for peace.
Unfortunately, our longtime allies across the Atlantic have chosen to look at the dollar sign for underlying rationale, and turned a blind eye at the atrocities of this regime. Ultimately it is the French who have undermined any serious chance for a peaceful resolution a chance we had all hoped for.
Sen. Larry Craig is serving his second term as a United States Senator from Idaho.