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No prizes for diplomacy

Posted by Richard Wednesday, November 17, 2004

After his puerile outburst yesterday, to which my colleague drew attention, he is at it again to day, guaranteeing that, whatever other awards he might get, little Jacky Chirac will never be at risk of getting one for diplomacy. On the eve of his state visit to Britain, he has opened his mouth again, only to plant two size twelves in them, stating that the US-led war in Iraq has made the world a more dangerous place.

"To a certain extent, Saddam Hussein's departure was a positive thing”, he says – but only to a "certain extent". Avoiding any detail on the reasons why his departure was not "positive" - like Saddam was no longer in any position to buy French arms, in defiance of the boycott, or that the slush fund financed from the oil for food scam had sunnedly dried up – our Jacky noted that "it also provoked reaction such as the mobilisation in a number of countries of men and women of Islam, which has made the world more dangerous."

Of course, if the Western world had shown a united front on this, and had not had the French and others heckling behind the scene, and perhaps if Whacky Jacky had sent some troops into Iraq instead of sitting on the sidelines jeering, the world might be a slightly safer place, but then that would have deprived our noble French leader his place in history as the leader who said no to America.

Via The Guardian, however, we also hear that Colonel Tim Collins - whose call to his troops on the eve of the war to "liberate, not to conquer" were pinned to a White House wall – has warned there was now a danger that Iraq could slide into civil war. He is right, of course, but that was always a danger.

Neverthless, what he and many people do not seem to have taken on board is that, without even intervention, Saddam's regime would have come to an end. In the style of Lebanon, or the former Yugoslavia after the death of Tito, civil war would then not have been so much a danger as a racing certainty. At least now, with the US-led coalition in place, there are forces available to contain to violence and impose some kind of order.

On that basis, it is all very well for Mr Chirac to complain about the world being a more dangerous place, but what precisely is he doing to make it safer?