by Staff Writer
"French oil companies, unlike US ones, are actually government owned. Or to put that another way, the French government unlike the US one, is actually oil-owned," the anonymous tipster whispered. This was just the beginning of an interesting phone call.
A little work turned up some interesting facts. It turns out that France is very reliant on oil imports, especially from the Middle East, and has none of its own oil. If the oil stops flowing from the Middle East, France would have a serious problem. In fact, France has the most to gain of any Western country from the resumption of a cheap and stable oil supply under a docile Iraqi leader.
The Washington Post reported(1): "It's pretty straightforward," said former CIA director R. James Woolsey, who has been one of the leading advocates of forcing Hussein from power. "France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them." But he added: "If they throw in their lot with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them."
The French establishment, still bitter about the loss of their North African colonies to the Arabs, cares about Arab oil not the Arab people. My anonymous leak said the whole anti-American attitude by the French is a media facade. "We see eye-to-eye with the Americans on nearly everything. But we need Middle Eastern oil, so we are forced to maintain the public image that appeals to the Arabs. By controlling the oil, they control us." He told me that most of the populace disagrees with many of the articles in the French press, but is sophisticated enough to read between the lines.
Perhaps the most shocking revelation was a phone call my anonymous source overheard. "I was going to his office, and I didn't realize he was in the middle of an important phone call. He didn't see me, and I stood outside the door to wait." The man being overheard is a top French government official, though I cannot disclose his name or specific position. He was speaking to a US diplomat. The content of the phone call is really amazing: "Please steal some oil for us, when you attack Iraq. We really need it." My source could not believe his ears! This was so important he felt compelled to share the information with the American press.
To return to the introduction, although it may not be literally true, the oil companies do have significant influence in the highest levels of the French government. They very much need a war on Iraq, but at the same time must keep the right image so that the entire Middle East continues to sell oil to France. It is a tricky double-bind, but the French are handling it impressively. Indeed, they had me fooled...until I got a phone call yesterday.
If ya didn't get it, this is a joke. I wrote it September 2002. Ran into it again just now.