Hailed as a major stepping stone to victory in the war against Iraq is the capture of the southern oil fields, as well as off-shore pumping stations, the Al Faw peninsula, and a strategic seaport.

Once it was known the coalition had captured those oil fields, the U.S. stock market  reacted with a positive jump -- right in the middle of a war.

As I write, technicians are working to extinguish the last of some seven to nine oil wells deliberately set on fire by retreating Iraqi soldiers.

With the bulk of worrisome mines apparently moved from the shallow waters leading to Iraq's only major seaport, a British ship has docked, offloading emergency humanitarian supplies.

Coalition possession of the southern oil fields is said to be critical to the “oil for food” program, which is once more being urged by U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. In effect, since major French oil firms such as Elf Aquitaine and Total were in on the ground floor when the original oil for food program began in the mid-90s, this allows the French to have their cake and eat it too. Without sharing in the dangers of war; without committing a single soldier to the coalition forces, France will nevertheless be allowed to share in the spoils.

In one of the most shameful and shocking displays of arrogance and hostility, the French Foreign Minister, when asked recently whether he hopes to see a coalition victory in Iraq, refused to answer! His silence said it all.

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