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Documents: Saddam Bribed France, Russia, and China

John Kerry rather undiplomatically described the allies of the United States as a “coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought, and the extorted.”

As it turns out there really was a coalition of the bribed and the bought. And lo and behold, Britain, Australia, and Poland aren’t it.

SADDAM HUSSEIN believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.

Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France – having been granted oil contracts – would veto any American plans for war.

But the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), which returned its full report last night, said Saddam was telling the truth when he denied on the eve of war that he had any weapons of mass destruction (WMD). He had not built any since 1992.

The ISG, who confirmed last autumn that they had found no WMD, last night presented detailed findings from interviews with Iraqi officials and documents laying out his plans to bribe foreign businessmen and politicians.

Although they found no evidence that Saddam had made any WMD since 1992, they found documents which showed the “guiding theme” of his regime was to be able to start making them again with as short a lead time as possible.”

Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions – which stopped him acquiring weapons – were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.

To keep America at bay, he focusing on Russia, France and China – three of the five UN Security Council members with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.

Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the “primary motive for French co-operation” was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.

John Kerry should have taken this into account a long time ago. I doubt a single person in the Bush camp is surprised by this. A lot of us have been wondering all along what on earth Kerry is talking about when he complains about Bush’s supposed lack of diplomacy. If Kerry were president he would have to deal with the exact same international shenanigans.

How would he handle it? I’d like to know, but he will never tell us because he would have to yank one of his planks before he could do so.

(Hat tip: David Batlle via email.)

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