Thursday, August 29, 2002


Former Ambassador to the United Nations Michael Holbrooke wants the US to get a new resolution from the Security Council before going into Iraq.
few Americans today understand the enormous force, both moral and political, that a Security Council resolution authorising military intervention carries in the rest of the world.

Why is this relevant?
Such a resolution would provide those nations (Turkey, Britain) that want to support an effort to remove Saddam with a vital legitimising cover for action, and put great pressure on those (Germany, France, Saudi Arabia) that are wavering or opposed.

The worry for Britain, Germany and France is not the lack of a UN resolution; it is the opportunistic anti-Americanism of the Left. These people were virulently opposed to the first Gulf War, regardless of the Coalition, UN resolutions, anything. Why any difference today?

The problem for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and anyone else on the Arab Street is similarly not the lack of a new UN Resolution. It's the mullahs and radicals that constantly preach that their poverty is not their own fault, it is the fault of the Infidel, and if we could just go back to the glory days Caliph Doo-Dad, all would be well.
"Kill the Infidel! Burn their cities! Plough the earth with salt!"
"Imam, you should read this."
"Change of plans, O Mighty Warriors of Islam! The UN Security Council says it's all right to attack our Islamic brothers in Baghdad! All hail the wonderful US! Who wants ice cream?"

The big question is what will happen if the Council does not see fit to pass the resolution?
So the betting here is that effective US diplomacy would result in a Security Council resolution strong enough to lay the basis for immediate military action if Iraq violated it, as it has violated previous resolutions. If, however, such a resolution cannot be achieved, the Administration will be in a much stronger position to garner international and domestic support for action than if it had never tried at all.

So the US should ask for an umpire's decision, accept it only if it goes their way, and this will make them look better? But the basis for the whole theory is this:
The road to Baghdad runs through the UN Security Council. This simple truth must be recognised by the Bush Administration if it wants the international support that is essential for success in Iraq.

But there is no explanation why it is "essential". We know damn well it is not needed militarily, so the support must be of a diplomatic kind, and available after the fact.

It reminds me of a documentary on Antarctica that showed the Emperor penguins heading off for a feed. They gather at the edge of the ice, afraid to go in because there might be a leopard seal in the water. After a while the mob builds up, and one falls in. If that penguin makes it out safe, a few more take the plunge, then some more, until finally there is a full-on feeding frenzy.

My bet is that Europe and the Islamic countries will quickly switch their rhetoric to the position of demanding a say in the administration of the new Iraq. The Europeans will see a new market, new influence in the Middle East and falling oil prices. The Arabs will see unlimited pumping by Iraq, uppity Kurds, and the increasing Shi'ite influence.

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