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He said, Iraq said

Reuters reports on European positions with regard to Iraq, in that wacky Reuters way:

French President Jacques Chirac said on Saturday Paris was keeping its options open over possible military action against Iraq, but had full understanding for Germany's outright rejection of any involvement.

Speaking after an informal meeting with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the German leader's private home in Hanover, Chirac said Germany and France agreed they were opposed to unilateral military action

I think I'm going to have an aneurysm if I read this one more time. If the United States and Britain are both involved, it's not unilateral. More to the point, ignoring Britain, if the French and/or Germans join in, it also ceases to be unilateral. So when they say that they're opposed to unilateral action, what they're really saying is that they won't agree to help unless they decide to help. Which is true, but not particularly useful.

On the other hand, perhaps "unilateral" is just a faulty buzzword, and what these Eurocrats really means is that even a group of countries shouldn't act, that action should only be taken if the United Nations agrees. Well, in that case, what they're actually saying is that even a united U.S. and Europe should not act unless Russia, China, and others agree. They're saying that a group of countries that includes Syria, Bulgaria, and Singapore should have veto power over U.S. actions. If anybody can explain to me why that's a good idea, I'm all ears.

and reiterated their call to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to allow arms inspectors to return unconditionally.
Hmmm. Wonder if he's going to listen. Is anybody else picturing the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knights try to enter the French castle?

In any case, Reuters explains the problem:

Bush views Iraq as part of a so-called axis of evil, and says he wants to topple the Baghdad government of President Saddam Hussein and destroy his alleged weapons of mass destruction. Iraq says it no longer has prohibited arms.
Isn't that all so evenhanded? Bush "views" Iraq as part of a "so-called" axis of evil. Iraq "says" it doesn't have these weapons. Who's right? Reuters doesn't know and doesn't care. Why does this sound like a teaser from The People's Court?

I'm Doug Llewellyn. What you are witnessing is real. The participants are not actors. They are actual litigants with a case pending in an international court. Both parties have agreed to dismiss their court cases and have their dispute settled here in our forum -- The People's Court.

This is the plaintiff, George Bush. He alleges that Saddam Hussein has acquired weapons of mass destruction and is threatening to use them. He's suing for regime change and weapons inspections.

This is the defendant, Saddam Hussein. He denies having weapons of mass destruction, and says that sanctions are causing suffering in his country. He wants an end to inspections and sanctions.

We'll return for "The Case of the Dangerous Dictator" after these messages.

I mean, it's all just he-said, she-said to Reuters. Except, of course, when Iraq says something, in which case Reuters reports it credulously:

Baghdad has called for a comprehensive solution to the crisis, including an end to sanctions imposed for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and which have caused widespread suffering.
How nice for them. Note that Bush merely "calls" Iraq evil, while the suffering caused by the sanctions is reported as fact, not allegation, by Reuters. And of course Reuters reports the sanctions as part of the "crisis" to be "solved," rather than as part of the means to solve the crisis itself.

I know bashing Reuters coverage is so easy, but there's good reason so many people do it.


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