Here is the transcript of the press conference in the Azores by President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, Prime Minister Barroso of Portugal and Prime Minister Aznar of Spain. The basic message is that tomorrow is the last day on which diplomacy will be pursued, and after that, regardless of what the vote may be in the Security Council (or whether there is a vote) Saddam will be overthrown. Finally.
The only noteworthy comments in the press conference, it seemed to me, were by President Bush at the end, about France:
“I was the guy that said they ought to vote. And one country voted. They showed their cards, I believe. It’s an old Texas expression, show your cards, when you’re playing poker. France showed their cards.
“After I said what I said, they said they were going to veto anything that held Saddam to account. So cards have been played. And we just have to take an assessment after tomorrow to determine what that card meant.”
Let’s hope he follows through. I think he will. And this about the United Nations:
“And the U.N. must mean something. Remember Rwanda or Kosovo. The U.N. didn’t do its job. And we hope tomorrow the U.N. will do its job. If not, all of us need to step back and try to figure out how to make the U.N. work better, as we head into the 21st century.
“Perhaps one way will be, if we use military force in a post-Saddam Iraq, the U.N. will definitely need to have a role. And that way it can begin to get its legs, legs of responsibility, back.
“But it’s important for the U.N. to be able to function well…and I will work hard to see to it that, at least from our perspective, that the U.N. is able to be a responsible body, and when it says something, it means it….”
The failings, in short, are on the part of France and the U.N., not the United States and its allies.
The press conference–located for symbolic purposes in the Atlantic Ocean–was also replete with references to the “importance of transatlantic relations.” It was, perhaps, a shot across the bow of the European Union and those within the EU who wish to disrupt the relationships between the U.S. and its European allies.
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