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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | September 09, 2002

Will the UN back war?

Matthew Yglesias chimes in with an excellent critique of my assertion that the UN will not back war.

Yglesias argues that of the five permanent members, the UK will back the US (a given), as will France and Russia, while China will abstain.

China might abstain, as they have historically done in similar situations. However, they have been high-profile in their pursuit of a diplomatic solution:

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan has said: "The Iraq question should be resolved within the framework of the UN by diplomatic and political means... Resorting to force or threatening to resort to force will not solve the problem; on the contrary it leads to more tensions and troubles."
Russia has just signed a massive trade deal with Iraq, and is adamant about finding a political resolution:
"Political and diplomatic potential for a settlement of the Iraq situation has by no means yet been exhausted. We believe that diplomatic methods alone will provide a solution," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has said.
France is France, and will straddle the fence as long as it can. It has been trying to give Iraq an out:
French President Jacques Chirac has proposed a two-stage plan that could lead to UN authorisation of military force against Iraq.

Stage one would be a resolution giving Baghdad three weeks to readmit arms inspectors. If the inspectors were not let in, the French president suggested, there could be another resolution backing the use of force.

France's tactic is clearly to delay any attack as long as possible to 1) give Iraq a chance to save its own hide, and 2) see if cooler heads will prevail in the US.

(All quotes above from this BBC page.)

In any case, the UN Security Council is more than just the 5 permanent members. I list the full council below, and how I predict they would vote:

  • Mauritius (No -- strong ties with war opponents India, S. Africa)
  • Mexico (Yes -- maybe)
  • Norway (No)
  • Russia (No)
  • Singapore (Undecided)
  • Syria (No. Arab nation)
  • United Kingdom (Yes)
  • United States (Yes)
  • Bulgaria (??)
  • Cameroon (No. Large Muslim population)
  • China (No or abstain)
  • Colombia (Yes -- needs US aid)
  • Guinea (No. Muslim nation)
  • Ireland (??)
  • France (??)
So here alone, we have six or seven probable "No" votes in the council. Even if Russia and China abstain, the "No" forces could still realistically defeat a war resolution.

Update: Political Wire reports:The Wall Street Journal says "Bush is confident he can win a vote in Congress, but is less sure of convincing the U.N."I don't have web access to the WSJ, nor do I have a copy of today's edition lying around. But, based on that one sentence alone, it seems Bush doesn't think he can ram his war plans through the Security Council. Can anyone elaborate?

Posted September 09, 2002 01:04 PM | Comments (6)


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