Lost in the headlines about the lack of WMD in Iraq is the fact that the UN sanctions against the Hussein regime were collapsing. After years of accepting bribes from Saddam Hussein as part of the UN Oil for Food Program, it appears that French politicians had assured Hussein that they would veto any US resolution which called for the use of military force in Iraq. Similarly, Russia and China (two other members of the 5 member UN Security Council) were beneficiaries of below-market crude contracts, and favored the removal of UN sanctions.
In a report issued this week which detailed contract recipients and bribes by Hussein's regime, French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua and businessman Patrick Maugein were cited. Maugein, who owns a refinery in Mantua, Italy and was considered a "conduit to Chirac" by Iraqi officials, was awarded contracts for 25 million barrels of below-market oil by Iraq. As a close associate and financial backer of Chirac, Maugein was clearly in a position to influence France policy. As Interior Minister, Pasqua held the same influence.
Fast forward to today under the assumption the United States never invaded Iraq. UN sanctions would have likely been lifted. Saddam Hussein's regime would be financially strong through Oil for Food kickbacks (which yielded billions of dollars) and $50/barrel crude. Al Qaeda, who would be looking for a new base of operations, and Saddam Hussein, would share a common enemy: The United States.
John Kerry would lead you to believe that (Saddam Hussein - UN Sanctions + $billions + Al Qaeda) = World Peace. I'd like to think that even Jacques Chirac could see the flawed logic of that equation.