February 27, 2003


A Security Council on the Run (Ian Williams, February 27, 2003, AlterNet)
With its vaguely worded "second resolution" proposal for the UN Security Council, the United States is showing contempt for the UN and laying down a humiliating dare to any Council members who would defy it. If and when it is passed, it will also hand Washington's only real ally, Tony Blair, an opening to claim UN authorization for attacking Iraq -- although the proposed wording does no such thing. [...]

But since the administration has decided it wants a second resolution as a fig leaf for a decision it has already made, Washington is resorting to diplomacy, Texas-style. While Turkey, adroitly exploiting its strategic position, is chewing on billions of juicy carrots, the rest of the world is getting the stick -- though in the case of the major players like Germany, Russia, and France, the big-stick approach has already provoked more resistance than cooperation. For example, sending uber-aggressive Undersecretary of State John Bolton to Moscow is the type of diplomacy that started the Hundred Years' War, not ended it.

Sadly, though, the stick does work well with many UN members, and the degree of resistance put up by a country is generally in inverse proportion to its GDP, but also strongly correlated with its trade ties to the United States. With Bulgaria, Washington emphasized the need for Senate authorization of its NATO membership. But if it toes the line, Bulgaria has also been promised that the new democratic and independent Iraq will pay off its pre-Gulf War debts. When Paris promptly pointed out the potential difficulties it may face in gaining entry into the European Union, the poor Bulgarians looked like rabbits caught in the headlights -- as indeed do many of their colleagues at the moment.

So will this resolution pass? Certainly not if it were a secret ballot! But even so, France has certainly sent a number of clear signals indicating its willingness to compromise. Neither French President Jacques Chirac nor Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has rejected the military option. However, Washington is not interested in offering easy climb-downs for uppity Europeans and may yet provoke a very reluctant France to use its veto. If France does not veto the resolution, then the Russians and Chinese almost certainly will not do so.

In fact, Chirac is probably fervently hoping that Saddam Hussein refuses to destroy the Al-Samoud 2 missiles as ordered by Blix. It would provide a great opportunity to climb down from the pole of principle up which he has climbed, and which he can't otherwise slide down because of all the other countries that followed him up there!

It's not principle if you're looking to ditch it, but it's nice to see that even those who temporarily find themselves siding with the French don't trust them. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 27, 2003 9:48 PM

I want nothing less than total surrender of the cheese-eating surrender weasels.

And its seat on the council gone. If there still is a council, that is.

And we're going to be importing more wine from Bulgaria.

Posted by: Sandy P at February 28, 2003 1:33 AM

This is a pretty good analysis, but its weakness is as you say, that it treats French actions as stemming from intellectual or moral principles. We don't know the real reason behind the French actions, but there's a good chance the Bush administration does; and that that knowledge explains why they're trying to make this experience as tough for the French as possible.

I think this is a diplomatic "you're with us or you're against us" moment, and its intent is to prepare the public, in both the US and Europe, for a revelation of French perfidy.

One possibility: a longtime under-the-table French alliance with Saddam. The spectacle of the French siding diplomatically with Saddam, alone against the world, will get people psychically prepared for French military and intelligence and technology cooperation with Iraq.

Posted by: pj at February 28, 2003 8:01 AM

MAKE THEM VOTE! Let's clear the air of rhetoric, establish the record and let it speak for itself. Who's in and who's out? It won't change the course of what's going to happen, it will merely set in concrete who was on which side when it did.

We can't afford and don't DARE show the rest of the world all of what we really know. We've probably already shown them too much......and that, by their estimation, hasn't been enough to justify our course.

So, rather than risk further incrimination of our own intel sources and capabilities, we need to get in there and get the job done.

After the murderous madman is ousted, we can rub the dissenters' noses in their own stupidity by releasing the volumes of hard evidence that we couldn't show them while they protested and stalled under the guise of diplomacy.

Posted by: John Resnick at February 28, 2003 6:55 PM