Friday, December 12, 2003

I'm sorry sir, you are on the list

Trust Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to always look on the bright side. While international political commentators contemplate the discomfort of Duyba's begging phone calls to Jacques, Gerhard, and Pootie-Poot for Iraq debt relief on the same day the Pentagon was leaving them off the list of acceptable contracting countries for Iraq, it has now emerged that the Republic would have seen its own inclusion on the precious list as a great dishonour. Because Bertie is now spinning the Republic's exclusion as proof that he really was against the war. Specifically:

Speaking on [national] radio this morning, Mr Ahern said that Ireland's exclusion from a list of 63 countries drawn up by the US that could compete for contracts to rebuild Iraq was "a proof that at least the rest of the world understood" that Ireland was against the war.

And God forbid the world think the Republic was in favour of the war -- it could have jeopardised our entrant in the Miss World contest, for one thing. But seriously, Bertie should have kept his mouth shut. Because, within the constraints of being a neutral country, the Republic was as pro-war as one could get. Besides our rhetorical silence in key debates, there was the very practical matter of the use of Shannon as a stopover for hundreds of thousands of US troops en route to and from Iraq. Even Rummy stopped over the odd time.

As it happens, the Republic is one of those countries owed money by Iraq -- courtesy of some corrupt export credit deals for beef in the late 1980s. So Dubya can safely phone Bertie for help on that one, knowing that Bertie doesn't want to be on the list anyway. What are friends for?

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