France âutterly opportunisticâ on Iraq, says Howard
PRIME Minister John Howard today lashed out at France following French President Jacques Chiracâs stinging criticism of the United States over the war against Iraq. "The French have been utterly opportunistic from the very beginning on this issue," Mr Howard told reporters in Sydney today, following a speech by Mr Chirac to the United Nations.
Mr Chirac told the UN the US-led war had "shaken the multilateral system" and that there was no justification for a superpower to act alone, without UN backing. But Mr Howard defended the US, saying: "If America and her allies had not acted, then Iraq would still be run by Saddam Hussein. Those that advocated another course have to accept that if their advice had been followed Saddam Hussein would still be in power in Iraq, with all of the torture and the human rights abuses that is involved in that. It may suit countries like France now to say you shouldnât do anything without a new Security Council resolution, but countries like France havenât always adopted that attitude in the past." Mr Howard said the war against Iraq by the "coalition of the willing" was legal and consistent with the UN charter. "People seem to have forgotten that there were 17 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council which dealt with Saddam Husseinâs defiance of the need to account for his weapons of mass destruction," he said.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also criticised the US, describing the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war as a threat to global security. Mr Howard said Australia had always supported a greater involvement by the UN, but it was countries such as France which stopped the system working properly. "Letâs call a spade a spade: because of the authority they exercised as a permanent member of the Security Council, countries like France made it impossible for the Security Council and the United Nations to do their job," he said. "They were perfectly happy to see American and British troops and a smaller number of Australian forces exert pressure on Saddam Hussein before the war started, but then they werenât prepared to join the collective action. Now they are criticising those who were willing to do what the world Iâm sure is relieved was done, and that is to rid the world of Saddam Hussein."
Posted by: g wiz 2003-09-24