Deacon tried to put an optimistic face on the endless soap opera surrounding Iraq, but I’m not buying it. Today the U.S. and Britain circulated a proposed U.N. resolution; the French and Germans are promoting a competing resolution that says, in part:
“The conditions for using force against Iraq are not fulfilled: While suspicions remain, no evidence has been given that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction or capabilities in this field; Inspections have just reached their full pace; they are functioning without hindrance; they have already produced results; While not yet fully satisfactory, Iraqi cooperation is improving, as mentioned by the chief inspectors in their last report.”
Saddam Hussein’s reaction was triumphant:
“It is right to say that the United States is now in its worst position despite all the hollow shows of power, acts of deception and falsehood which this foolish administration is practicing.”
I think he’s right. The agonizing crawl toward a resolution of the Iraq crisis has dispirited the Administration’s friends and energized its foes. The President’s enemies, foreign and domestic, aren’t really trying to save Saddam. They know that they will get the best of both worlds: a safer world, and a badly damaged Bush administration. While the President’s stature may rebound somewhat if the war is concluded quickly and successfully, I suspect that much of the damage that has been done will be permanent.
In my view, the detour through the U.N. has been a disaster from which Bush’s Presidency is unlikely to recover fully. Whoever pressed for this alternative within the Administration should be eased out at the earliest convenient opportunity.
UPDATE: In the interest of balance, here is Andrew Sullivan’s take on the present situation–more optimistic than mine; pretty much the opposite, in fact. We report, you decide:
“The second U.N. resolution is irrelevant to whether a war actually takes place. It is therefore a gamble Bush cannot completely lose (whatever diplomatic and popular damage it does would be more than undone by a successful war). But it’s a resolution the Security Council (and France and Germany) can easily lose. If the resolution is defeated, but war ensues, Bush will take a small hit at home, a huge hit abroad (still, how much worse could it get?) – but, precisely because of these things, an even bigger domestic gain if the war is successful. Bush will be seen as someone who did all he could to win over the U.N., but in the end, did what he believed was right. He will emerge principled and triumphant. Ditto Blair, especially if a liberated Iraq reveals untold horrors, human rights abuses and French arms contracts. Machiavelli’s dictum applies powerfully now: all that matters is that Bush win the war.”
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