Looks like the Franco-German ego crisis is reaching critical mass.
Germany was trying last night to build a coalition to prevent America and Britain from going to war with Iraq, threatening one of the biggest transatlantic rifts for decades.Worse than that, it's tantamount to an open declaration that they intend to actively interfere with any US actions taken in the region. And that is an extremely dangerous position to take. It amounts to gambling the house on a turn of the card.
The plan, hatched in secret by Germany and France, is expected to be presented to the United Nations Security Council this week at about the same time as a crucial report by inspectors on attempts to disarm Saddam Hussein.
It is widely expected that the report, due on Friday, will be seen by America and Britain as providing the grounds for war. Inspectors said last night that there had been no breakthrough in spite of two days of talks with Baghdad.
Washington and London responded with anger to the German-led scheme. US officials described it as "dangerous", "ineffective" and "naive".
Germany claimed French support and involvement in the planning behind Project Mirage, which would authorise the UN effectively to take over the running of Iraq.Heh. They might as well have named it "Project Delusions of Adequacy."
It would then triple the weapons inspection teams to 300, allow the deployment of UN troops and allow reconnaissance flights over the entire country. Saddam would be allowed to remain in office, albeit as a figurehead.Unacceptable.
France claimed that the plan was not secret but acknowledged the bare bones of the proposals. In a meeting last night, President Vladimir Putin of Russia also offered carefully phrased backing.You betcha. All three have a heavy financial interest in seeing the status of Iraq remain quo.
He said: "All those who are closely following the situation in Iraq can see that the positions of Russia, Germany and France are almost the same in this question."