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

Tuesday | February 25, 2003

'Coalition of the unwilling'; 2nd resolution

Bush may talk all he wants about his "coalition of the willing", but the reality is much bleaker.

President Bush keeps warning that if the United Nations Security Council will not back a war in Iraq, he will assemble a ''coalition of the willing'' to depose Saddam Hussein. But the more than two dozen countries that have offered some measure of backing to the United States have complex motives that in many cases have more to do with placating the world's only superpower -- or trading their support for huge sums in U.S. aid -- than with a desire to rid the world of Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction.
Contrast the current mess with Bush I's masterful diplomatic effort to rally the world against Saddam:
The situation is far different than in 1990, when many countries were eager to join the United States in reversing Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait.

Then, 34 nations joined up, including Britain, France and key Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria, all of which contributed military forces. Together, nations other than the United States deployed 160,000 troops, 24% of the total, and paid 88% of the war's $90 billion price tag.

This time, even if there is another U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force, most of the fighting will probably be done by U.S. troops, and most of the funding will come from U.S. taxpayers.

This time, only the UK has offered significant manpower, with Australia sending a token contribution. Turkey will participate, but only to subjugate northern Iraq's Kurdish people.

As for the UN, can the US get its second resolution? Things are looking bleak. Currently, the following Security Council nations are pro war:

United States
The following nations are firmly opposed:
China (veto)
France (veto)
Russia (veto)
The swing votes are Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico, and Pakistan. The resolution needs nine votes to pass, which leaves the US and Britain with the difficult task of rounding up five votes (not to mention avoiding a veto).

Clearly, the French and other war opponents would be in a far better position if they didn't have to wield their veto. An abstention counts as a "no" vote under security council rules, so ideally, Russia, China and France could abstain -- still stymying the war resolution without the politically tainted veto.

Mexico has been stridently anti war, with Fox telling Aznar straight up that he wasn't going to vote for the resolution. Chile seemed like a sure "pro" vote, but that nation has been hedging the past few days. Whether it's seeking US concessions or whether it truly is conflicted remains to be seen.

Africa, as a bloc, voted unanimously to condemn an Iraq invasion, which would suggest the three African nations on the Security Council would follow suit. That leaves Pakistan, which is already in the crosshairs of the neocons. Do they embolden a militaristic US that may soon train its guns on their own country? And what can the US promise Pakistan? Breaks for their textile industry? That was a promise/deal that has already been reneged by Bush. The man can't be trusted.

And Pakistan's powerful Islamic community could rise in anger if their government gives the Americans the green light.

Amidst that backdrop, it's difficult to see how the US can garner the five additional votes it needs. Chile seems to easiest to get, but after that it becomes incrementally more difficult.

Posted February 25, 2003 08:57 AM | Comments (90)


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