And now the most compelling two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, says of Iraq's willingness to obey the U.N.'s disarmament demands, "Suspicion arises that the authorities would not like to cooperate." The quote is from an interview with Time magazine, in which Blix concedes that Iraq is dragging its feet, providing only bits of information, and only under pressure, including the U.S. military buildup. This exchange then occurs:
Time: "What will it take for you to say enough? Enough. You're dribbling this out."
Blix: "Well, we've only been dribbling now for twelve weeks."
Time: "So you'd like to dribble twelve more?"
Blix: "I'd like to go on, yes."
Getting Around Restrictions?
Germany, which has ruled out any participation in military action against Iraq, is quietly trying to use just such action as a way to get around European Union restrictions on the size of its budget deficit. Under current EU rules, no member nation can run a deficit greater than 3 percent of its annual output. Germany's deficit already exceeded that last year. So, according to the Times of London, Berlin is talking about invoking an exemption to the 3 percent rule, which applies to exceptional circumstances that have "a major impact on the financial condition" of the government. This has never been interpreted to apply to military action before, but the Times says Germany is prepared to try it, even though it would only apply to the direct cost of a war Germany says it won't be part of.
Viewers Protesting Reporting
The BBC has received one of the largest outpourings of listener and viewer protest ever for the allegedly anti-American tone of its reporting on Iraq. The London Daily Telegraph reports that more than 400 people have called the Beeb, as it's called, in recent weeks to complain about such things as failure to point out that Iraqi citizens interviewed live in a dictatorship are hardly free to speak their minds. In the meantime, a comedian who appears on the BBC said he told four jokes in a Saturday afternoon taping, one aimed at the British, and three at the French. When the segment aired on Saturday night, the British joke was included but not the French.
For the Record
For the record one of those jokes went like this:
Question: "What do you call a Frenchman advancing on Baghdad?
Answer: "A salesman."