March 18, 2003 | Commentary on Foreign Aid and Development

Ulterior Motives

My heart beat quickly and I felt a pride in President Bush last night that equals how I felt about President Reagan in 1987 when he boldly proclaimed: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

President George W. Bush made it clear that he, too, is willing to take bold steps of leadership in the name of freedom by ensuring that America takes her rightful place on the world stage even when others will not. I broke into applause at the sound of his emphatic statement, "The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise up to ours."

Few have bothered to research the reasons why key countries such as France, Germany, Russia and China have all refused to take action against the wickedness of a man who tortures children, stockpiles chemical weapons, has a history of invading his neighbors, breaks peace treaties and murders thousands of his own countrymen. Thank God we have a president who not only knows the truth, but refuses to allow the selfish interests of other countries to weaken his resolve to protect lives, liberate an oppressed people and preserve the freedom of the United States of America. President Bush and his administration know that the refusal of all four nations to take decisive action to disarm Saddam Hussein is because they all have major investments in Saddam Hussein's evil empire.

A recent Web memo put together by my colleagues at the Heritage Foundation documents the billions of dollars that are made off the inhumane animal that is Saddam.

France, for example, is Iraq's largest European trading partner, and handles more than 22.5 percent of Iraq's imports. Some 60 French companies do an estimated $1.5 billion in trade with Baghdad annually under the U.N. oil-for-food program.

Think pacifist France isn't interested in oil? Well, the country's largest oil company, Total Fina Elf, has negotiated a deal to develop the Majnoon field in western Iraq. It purportedly contains up to 30 billion barrels of oil. That's oil that might go to a different company - perhaps a (shudder) non-French company - if Saddam's corrupt regime topples.

Germany is doing pretty well for itself, too. Our research shows that Berlin's pulling down about $350 million annually in direct trade with Iraq, with another $1 billion reportedly sold through third parties. Saddam appreciates all that trade - reportedly, he recently ordered Iraqi businesses to show preference to German companies because of Berlin's "firm positive stand in rejecting the launching of a military attack against Iraq." Remind me again: Who's in the back pocket of Big Business?

Moscow also has close ties to Baghdad. The "CIA World Factbook" says Russia controls roughly 5.8 percent of Iraq's annual imports. Under the U.N. oil-for-food program, Russia's total trade with Iraq was somewhere between $530 million and $1 billion for the six months ending in December of 2001.

Russia's LUKoil is holding a $4 billion, 23-year contract to rehabilitate the 15 billion-barrel West Qurna field in southern Iraq. And a $40 billion Iraqi-Russian economic agreement, reportedly signed in 2002, would allow extensive oil exploration opportunities throughout western Iraq. But again, a new Iraqi government might invalidate those deals and give the contracts to different companies.

As for China, it too does plenty of business in Iraq. Beijing controls roughly 5.8 percent of Iraq's annual imports. And China's National Oil Company has partnered with China North Industries Corp. to negotiate a 22-year-long deal for future oil exploration in the Al Ahdab field in southern Iraq.

Sadly, these nations are more interested in profit than peace. Between 1981 and 2001, France was responsible for more than 13 percent of Iraq's arms imports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. SIPRI also found China was the second-largest supplier of weapons and arms to Iraq, providing more than 18 percent of Iraq's weapons imports during that period.

Some of that was probably sold during the Iran-Iraq war. Russian companies hold an estimated $7 billion to $8 billion of debt generated by arms sales to Iraq during that conflict. And officials are investigating a German corporation accused of illegally shipping weapons to Iraq through Jordan. The equipment is allegedly intended for Saddam Hussein's Al Fao Super cannon project.

Last night, President Bush took the stage and promised the world that "… the tyrant will soon be gone." He is a hero of freedom, human dignity and truth. He knows the dirty little secrets of those countries which have failed in their duties as members of the world's "Security Council" - and now you know them too.

Reprinted with the permission of the Internet newspaper

- Rebecca Hagelin is a vice president of the Heritage Foundation, a research and educational think-tank whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values and a strong national defense. She is also the former vice president of communications for WorldNetDaily and her 60-second radio commentaries can be heard on the Salem Communications Network.

About the Author

Rebecca Hagelin Senior Communications Fellow