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September 17, 2002

Whoops! Well, as Gomer might

Whoops!

Well, as Gomer might say, "Surprise, surprise surprise!". George accepted the argument that the U.S. needed to go through the United Nations before attacking Iraq, and now it's come back and bitten him in the ass. As I said before, all the U.N. can do is provide a fig leaf of international approval, but the fig leaf isn't for our benefit. It is solely for the benefit of the U.N., in the hopes that in future we will look to put on the fig leaf before we do anything, that in the absence of the fig leaf we will do nothing.

Now, Bill Quick points out that from the administration's viewpoint, this is so much window dressing, and I agree. The initial announcement that we would be seeking United Nations' resolutions before we started, not bombing Iraq, since we're apparently doing that everyday, so perhaps invading was in all likelihood just for domestic and foreign political consumption. The problem lies in the fact that now that the U.N. has gotten us to do the first thing on its list, "Ask for the fig leaf.", it can now proceed to the second item, "Prevent the U.S. from acting without it." The U.S. is proposing a resolution to the Security Council that will give us the cover to attack Iraq, and the Iraqi proposal to allow inspections will likely sink it.

Here's the current membership of the security Council. Russia and China have already stated that there is now need for a new resolution, and France wants two resolutions, one for inspections now, or perhaps next month, and one after Iraq is shown to still be resisting inspections to authorize the use of force later on. Aside from the fact that the U.S. resolution could simply be vetoed, how many of the current members will even support the U.S. resolution? Britain, perhaps Colombia and Mexico, but there's no one else there we can count on.

What the media fails to report, and probably doesn't even see, and that the ultimate aims of Saddam and the U.N. dovetail. We already know that the United Nations would prefer that we not attack, that's why George told them to put or shut up. What our situation with the U.N. boils down to is this; The United Nations will agree to the process, because as long as we're involved in the process, we're not attacking. It's in the interest of the U.N. to keep us in the process because that enhances the power and stature of the U.N. Diplomats are at heart procrastinators, because they never know when conditions might change to favor their side. Therefore they draw out negotiations as long as possible in the hope that the conditions change.

Saddam wants nothing more than to prevent a U.S. attack, and if he can't prevent it, then he needs to delay it for as long as possible, in hopes that the underlying conditions change. He cannot at the moment do anything to oppose us militarily, but he can do things diplomatically to slow down an attack until conditions change in his favor. The longer the process takes the more likely this is. He'll be happy to allow inspectors in, after the two weeks or so it takes to co-ordinate it. At that point Iraqi cgoes back to the game of harassing, misleading and stalling them until they leave again. This took up years last time Saddam played this game. He can certainly get a year out of it this time.

A year or so gives the internal opposition in Britain and America time to grow, and while this might not affect President Bush, but it could certainly affect Prime Minister Blair, keeping Britain from an active role in the attacks. There's also the chance that Saddam could get the bomb in the next couple of months, after which the conventional wisdom dictates that he can thumb his nose at the world. I think the conventional wisdom is full of it, that the moment Saddam has the bomb he's got to use it or lose it, because the minute he announces he's got he's signed Iraq's death sentence. The only question in my mind is whether Israel nukes him before we do.

What the media also fails to note is the peculiar timing of this story, Saudis May Allow U.S. Use of Bases. Let's see, Saudi Arabia announces that we can use their air bases for an attack on Iraq, as long as a U.N.. resolution authorizes us to do so, and less than 8 hours later, Iraq seriously gums up the works needed to produce such a resolution. This wasn't a case of the Saudi's finally coming around and putting pressure on Iraq, this was a case of the Saudi's being in communication with Iraq and knowing beforehand what was coming. The House of Saud positioned itself in such a way that it can appear to once again be a U.S. ally without actually having to do a damn thing, and no one is calling them on it.

Update: Glenn Frazier also thinks Saddam's playing for time.

Posted by Bigwig at September 17, 2002 01:53 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
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