Jewish World Review March 12, 2003 / 8 Adar II, 5763
Blair goes wobbly
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | If public statements of position are anything to go by -- and they sometimes are -- the U.S., Britain, Spain have already lost the vote in the Security Council, no matter how they phrase their resolution. The vote was supposed to happen yesterday, and has been set back at least until tomorrow, possibly Friday, undermining the stated deadline of Monday for Iraq's Saddam regime to show a "strategic decision" to obey the 17 U.N. resolutions it has defied, lo these last 12 years of the slowest "rush to war" in history.
The gap is now clearly unbridgeable. Those not already onside with the U.S. are opposed to war under any circumstances at all. The revelations of the last few days -- including the discovery by U.N. inspectors in Iraq of such "smoking guns" as a gas-spewing air drone, and delivery devices for chemical and biological bombs; the revelation on Al-Jazeera TV of one of Saddam's suicide-terrorist camps; the public threat by a member of Iraq's cabinet to gas the Kurds again; multiple reports of the placing of explosives in Iraqi oil wells both north and south; the allegation that France has been shipping spare parts for the repair of Saddam's air fleet through third parties in the Gulf -- such overwhelming evidence of the true state of affairs is ignored alike by media and diplomats. They have reached their decision, to isolate and damage the United States as much as possible, and grant Saddam a pass. They don't want to know about anything that doesn't advance their argument, just as the appeasers of Hitler in a former generation did not want to know.
The difference between sides is doctrinal. President Bush first announced his own "doctrine of pre-emption" about 17 months ago, and won reticent international support as far as Kabul. It is a position the U.S. has consciously taken in deviation from past foreign policy, to address new and very frightening circumstances in the real world. France and her supporters, quite apart from various cynical motives for defending the monstrous Iraqi regime, do not accept the U.S. premise. As in any doctrinal dispute, the issue is about reality itself. They wish to continue, and to compel the U.S. to recognize, an international order that served the world adequately enough in the olden days; and they will persist in this until the current reality catches up with them.
But the United States is not going to wait for another "9/11". It will, as Donald Rumsfeld quietly mentioned yesterday, proceed if necessary even without British support. The U.S. did not choose unilateralism, it is having unilateralism thrust upon it. But if it is stuck with that fate, then it will fight alone for human freedom; as Churchill was prepared to lead what was still available of the British Empire, to fight alone in 1940.
Indeed, the only reason the U.S. introduced a new, and 18th resolution to the Security Council, and has been delaying the vote, is to provide the political cover to keep Tony Blair in office as British prime minister, and thus keep extremely useful British forces in the field in Iraq. The only remaining advantage of delay is for the new Turkish prime minister to give the U.S. forces that have actually been unloading in, and transiting, Turkey, the legal cover of a fresh Turkish Parliamentary vote. For as I am convinced by witnesses on the scene, the U.S. and Turkish armies are now in fact fully co-operating towards joint action on Iraq's northern front, whatever you read in the papers.
Mr. Blair has started to hedge his bets. Though he declared he was willing to lose his job, to stand by what he believed in, he, too, has begun "to weasel". The British foreign office yesterday began to make distance from the U.S. position, and cast doubt on whether Britain would keep its promise to act in Iraq even without U.N. support. Mr. Blair is recoiling, domestically, from one of the most sustained propaganda campaigns in British history, a 24/7 battery of lies from the BBC and similar media, that has succeeded in whipping up an anti-war frenzy on the backbenches of the Labour Party, as well as filling the British streets with Saddam's pacifist allies.
Yet that is only the proximate cause for his sudden loss of backbone. The conditions to which he has succumbed were created and abetted by a profoundly cynical power-play, from France, Germany, and Russia -- one which, in the French and Russian promise to use their vetoes to kill any U.N. decision to enforce its resolutions, is now exposed as a frontal attack on the interests of the United States -- an attempt to create a new balance of power, by cutting America down to size.
The French et al. smell blood, they are not going to back off now when they see the prospect of doing real damage. Their strategy was from the beginning to split the British from the Americans by humbling Mr. Blair, to delay the inevitable full-scale attack into the Iraqi hot season, when the fighting would be more difficult and thus the casualties higher; to isolate the U.S. diplomatically; to galvanize the international peace movement against the Bush administration; and to improve Saddam's prospects for creating a catastrophe when war comes.
The French betrayal is as total as it was surprising, after earnest promises from President Chirac to support the U.S. in return for elaborate concessions on U.N. Resolution 1441. They think they now have President Bush in a fox-trap: from which he cannot escape without chewing off a leg. They may be right: he may now have no choice but to chew off the British leg.
But whether they are right or not, they will now reap the whirlwind.
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03/10/02: Ready aye ready