Skip to comments.Bush Will Clear Fog That Shrouds UN On Iraq
Posted on 10/05/2002 10:04:39 PM PDT by Lady In BlueEdited on 10/05/2002 10:15:03 PM PDT by Admin Moderator. [history]
The generals speak of the "fog of war," but the fog of diplomacy is thicker. In the past 10 days there has been a tremendous amount of activity between the five "veto capitals" of the world -- Washington, London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, each with vetoes on the United Nations Security Council -- as the U.S. and Britain try to get the other parties to agree to a UN resolution on Iraq that will have body and teeth, not just snow and carrots.
It has also emerged that Kofi Annan, the United Nations' secretary general, has been active behind the scenes, helping the Iraqis frame and phrase both of the diplomatic stunts that have subverted the U.S. and British diplomatic effort. He helped the Iraqis write the letter on Sept. 16, deceitfully offering "inspections without conditions," and has since kept them informed of diplomatic developments, helping them time their second intervention, in which they anticipated and rejected the proposed U.S. resolution draft. The U.S. State Department has the documentation on this, and it cannot have helped to relieve the feelings of distrust, even contempt, the Bush administration has for "the way they do business over there."
The first thing to know is that none of the five governments are in any doubt that the U.S. intends to change the regime of Saddam Hussein. And neither Paris, nor Moscow, nor Beijing is in a position to stop it, through the UN or otherwise. The question from each is, "At what price will we allow the Americans to escape from the appearance of unilateralism?"
You might expect the "moderate Arab states" to be in the middle of such negotiations. One minor success of the Bush administration has been to take them out of the equation.
The French, who are now inclined to interpret their Security Council veto as held in trust for Europe, and who are therefore feverishly consulting with their continental colleagues, have the most reasonable objections. At the bottom of their demand for a delay in the attack, while the UN goes once more 'round the wheel, moving weapons inspectors pointlessly in and out of harm's way, is a sincere belief that a large fissure is opening between continental Europe and the English-speaking nations. The Europeans are, moreover, heavily invested in the Middle Eastern status quo; they realize the fall of Mr. Saddam will alter power relations throughout the region, and that it will tend to put the U.S. thumb on the oil artery that feeds the continental European brain.
They are deeply and properly worried about the fate of various European multinational business interests, in light of the likely fall of the ayatollahs in Iran just after Mr. Saddam. For Europe has become to Iran as the U.S. has been to Saudi Arabia in the past: a kind of special relationship founded in hostage to the need for oil.
The Russians have proved the hardest nut to crack. The British prime minister, Tony Blair, trusting the French will end up on the side of the angels, has been working privately on the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, with every wile at his command. The Russians have huge direct investments in both Iraq and Iran, and Mr. Saddam alone owes them at least $10 billion U.S. They are also conscious of having been stripped naked, strategically. They want the Americans to allow them to throw their weight around countries like Georgia, which has quietly slipped, like several other ex-Soviet states, from the Russian into the American sphere of influence. There is little they ask that the Americans can now give them; but there is a long Russian diplomatic tradition of trying it on anyway.
The Chinese are the easiest sell. They, too, have invested, notoriously in the supply of very disagreeable missile and other technology to Iraq and Iran, but in dollar terms they can afford to lose it. From a Chinese strategic point of view, the more the U.S. is tied down in the Middle East, the freer the Chinese hand in Taiwan and Southeast Asia. They would probably pass on any Security Council resolution anyway, having no motive for antagonizing the Bush administration now.
The positions of the respective powers have not changed in many years, in relation to one another. There has been an overall shift to "getting tougher" on Mr. Saddam, caused almost exclusively by the pressure brought by President George W. Bush. Without his intervention, the UN wouldn't even be discussing Iraq's genocidal weaponry today. But back in 1999, and under President Bill Clinton, there was the same disposition among the five, with the U.S. and Britain pressing a much-weaker inspections regime, and the French, Russians and Chinese resisting even that. The difference in outlook is nothing new, and it is reinforced by inertia.
Mr. Bush makes a formal, prime-time speech from Cincinnati -- ostentatiously, in the "American heartland" -- on Monday. I would expect that speech would be designed to clean up any remaining scattered resistance from the Tom Daschle and Al Gore factions in the Democratic party, as discussion of the U.S. Congressional resolution enters its showdown week. It is a little premature for him to be riding over the United Nations, though perhaps only by days. More likely he will merely launch the bowling ball at the five-pins in the Security Council -- "this is what we ask, and will accept nothing less."
My guess -- check against delivery -- is that he will make a feint toward accepting some token French scruples, then up the ante by offering to put U.S. (and with them, British) forces in the Iraq theatre behind Hans Blix's UNMOVIC team, to act as its enforcers. Alternatively, some other device will be used to heat the kettle toward boil. But if the UN can agree to nothing better than a return to the charade of the 1990s, as Secretary of State Colin Powell has averred, then the U.S. goes into "thwart mode" against all UN activities, and sends the planes in, hunting for the weapons and their owners alike.
The fog will soon clear.
Read previous columns at www.canada.com/ottawa .© Copyright 2002 The Ottawa Citizen
This is sure news to me! It's the first time I've heard about this.Why is it only reported in a foreign newspaper?!
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For me...I take it for granted that Annan and every other policrat on the planet is working against US & reality's interests.
"My guess is that he'll up the ante by offering to put U.S. (and with them, British) forces in the Iraq theatre behind Hans Blix's UNMOVIC team, to act as its enforcers."
He'd be wrong. These people dont get it....GW isnt gonna take one step back. Without a brand new resolution spelling out complete capitualtion by the Iraqis and the Military consequences of something they cannot deliver on anyway...Inspectors are out of the equation.
In return for this gesture of bad faith, Bush should immediately reverse his offer to rejoin UNESCO and threaten to freeze ALL US payments to the UN. This kind of duplicity needs to be publicized.
He should keep funding for peacekeeping activities in the quiver, for now.
Does the UN have a procedure for impeaching the Secretary General?