THE SCALE OF THE TASK
A second UN Resolution on Iraq is politically vital to British
Prime Minister Tony Blair, and would be important in the post-conflict
period when the US hopes to shift responsibilities to UN agencies.
Opinion polls have clearly indicated that a majority of the British
people oppose war without a second Resolution, but would support
it if there was UN authorisation.
However, support for war even with UN backing is dropping. When
YouGov asked on 20/21 Feb. 2003, 'Should Britain take part in
a war against Iraq if there is a second resolution backing it?'
59 per cent of people said 'Yes', down from 72 per cent a month
earlier. 30 per cent of respondents said 'No'. Without UN endorsement,
only 21 per cent support war (Sunday Times, 23 Feb., p.13)
Note that a second Resolution is unlikely to explicitly back military
action against Iraq. (See Briefing 28: Second
Resolution, on why even an explicit Resolution would not make
this a legal or just war.)
In order to secure a new Resolution, nine of the 15 members of
the UN Security Council have to vote positively in favour of the
Resolution, and the five permanent members of the Security Council
have to be persuaded not to use their vetoes. Already in favour
of war are the US, UK, Spain and Bulgaria. Definitely opposed
are France, Germany, Russia, Syria and China.
'Diplomats at the UN say opposition to war hardened last week
among the "middle six" countries on the security council
- Chile, Mexico, Angola, Cameroon, Guinea and Pakistan. One American
estimate suggested that the balance on the council was 114 in
favour of giving the UN inspectors more time' (Sunday Times,
23 Feb., p. 2)
AVOIDING A VETO
China, Russia and France are capable of vetoing the US/UK resolution.
Chinese academics have been used to indicate China is unlikely
to veto a US resolution (FT, 22 Feb. 2003, p. 6) China
has a lot to lose, particularly with the sensitive North Korean
crisis on its borders, in which the US is a key player.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, 'was perched so firmly
on the fence it must have hurt'. He suggested at first that 'there
was no reason to speak about using the right of veto' at the Security
Council, then added, 'Russia does not object to the right of a
veto'. (Sunday Times, 23 Feb. 2003, p.13). Ivanov recently
met Tom Lantos, a US congressperson, who offered the Russians
the inclusion of three Chechen rebel groups on the US list of
international terrorists - 'something the Russians had long wanted'.
'He also hinted that should the regime in Iraq change, the 5 billion
debt it owed to Russia would be honoured. The likelihood of Russia
receiving the money, said Lantos, "clearly would be dramatically
enhanced if Russia stood with us in this encounter"' (Sunday
Times, 23 Feb., p.14). France remains a problem. One French
official said, 'We won't accept any hidden ultimatum giving a
sort of legal stamp for the use of military force.' (FT,
22 Feb., p. 6). 'France has already threatened to veto a new resolution
containing the words "serious consequences"'. This has
led to a watering down of the US/UK draft text (Sunday Telegraph,
23 Feb., p. 28).
SECURING THE MIDDLE SIX
'A Bush administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
told the Guardian the US was not making economic threats - "but
that's not to say these countries are not aware that we provide
them with assistance".' Chile fears for its free-trade agreement
with the US, awaiting ratification by both countries' legislatures,
while 'a no vote could end Mexico's hopes of negotiating a better
deal for the millions of Mexican illegal immigrants in the US'.
Guinea receives $40m a year in aid from the US. (Guardian,
22 Feb., p. 4)
A lengthy article in the FT recalled the 'inducements'
offered to UN Security Council members to secure UN Security Council
Resolution 678, before the 1991 Gulf War. Simon Chesterton of
the International Peace Academy in New York noted that these 'included
promises of financial help to Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia
and Zaire'. There was, he said, an agreement with the Soviet Union
to help keep the Baltic states out of the 1990 Paris summit conference,
and cash inducements from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Chinas abstention
appears to have been secured by agreements to lift trade sanctions
in place since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and to support
a World Bank loan. 'Yemen, one of the two states to vote against
the resolution, had $70m (43m) in annual aid from the United States
cut off. Minutes after the vote was taken, a senior US diplomat
reportedly told the Yemeni representative: "That was the
most expensive No vote you ever cast".' (FT, 12 Feb.,
'Speaking before the Senate budget committee yesterday, [Colin]
Powell made clear that US political and military allies would
benefit from handouts. The $28.5bn foreign budget for 2004 "will
allow the United States to first target security and economic
assistance to sustain key countries supporting the war on terrorism
and helping us to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction".'
(FT, 12 Feb., p. 6)
'The hope is that if those votes [of the "middle six"]
are gained then the veto-wielding major powers who are threatening
to oppose an imminent attack might find themselves forced to abstain
rather than appear to challenge the majority will of the UN.'
(Guardian, 22 Feb., p. 4)
However, the US has problems with half of the"middle six":
'France has considerable influence over the three African members,
Guinea, Cameroon and Angola. It has also struck up a close relationship
with Mexico (which has clashed with the Bush Administration on
other fronts). In short, if France backs a resolution, it will
pass; if France doesnt, probably won't.' (Times, 12 Feb.,
p. 18) The question is whether France is committed to opposing
war - it can scupper the Resolution either by veto or by securing
THE PIVOTAL ROLE OF BLIX AND EL BARADEI
'At the moment it looks as if the United States and Britain would
struggle to get the nine votes and avoid a veto', said a Security
Council diplomat. 'But it only needs another Iraqi violation to
turn the momentum back the other way. The next two weeks are going
to be decisive.' (Sunday Telegraph, 23 Feb., p. 28) Eminent
British military commentator Lawrence Freedman notes that 'if
the inspectors are mildly hopeful, and a majority in the Security
Council concurs, it will be difficult for Britain and the US to
use force without a second resolution. They would have to demand
that inspections be abandoned abruptly so that war could begin.'
(Financial Times, 12 Feb., p. 17)
This is essentially what happened in Dec. 1998, when the chief
UN weapons inspector Richard Butler was called in by US Ambassador
to the UN Peter Burleigh, and advised to be 'prudent' with the
safety of UNSCOM staff: 'Repeating a familiar script, I told him
that I would act on this advice and remove my staff from Iraq.'
(Richard Butler, Saddam Defiant, p. 224)
Blix is not Butler. While Blix's first major report to the Security
Council on 27 Jan. favoured the US (he even 'flashed the thumbs-up...
to John Negroponte, the hawkish United States ambassador to the
United Nations', Telegraph, 28 Jan., p. 2), his second
update was noticeably more balanced.
Blix's key sentence on 27 Jan. was: 'Iraq appears not to have
come to a genuine acceptance - not even today - of the disarmament
which was demanded of it.' (FT, 28 Jan., p. 9). On 14 Feb.,
Blix spoke of UNMOVIC's ongoing and future activities, talked
of Iraqi cooperation on substance as well as access, and said,
'Inspections are effectively helping to bridge the gap in knowledge
that arose due to the absence of inspections between Dec. 1998
and Nov. 2002.' (See UNMOVIC,
'As Blix continued, Powells expression was icy... There was almost
an audible gasp in the chamber as Blix turned to the "clinching"
evidence that Powell had presented to the Security Council the
previous week. It was ambiguous and unconvincing, Blix said...
Blix described the inspectors brief as theoretically "open-ended".'
(Observer, 16 Feb., p. 18). 'It wasn't exactly a bag of
goodies, was it?' remarked one senior British diplomat after Mr
Blix had finished speaking. (FT, 15 Feb., p. 6) A key Downing
St official described Blix's statement as 'A disappointment. We
thought he would be tougher. Its not been the best of days.' (Observer,
16 Feb., p. 17)
THE INSPECTORS ARE THE ENEMY
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said explicitly, 'The question
isn't how much longer do you need for inspections to work. Inspections
will not work.' (Independent, 23 Jan., p. 1). As predicted
by a top US Senate official way back in May 2002, 'The White House's
biggest fear is that UN weapons inspectors will go in.' (Time
magazine, 13 May 2002, p. 38). Inspectors are an obstacle to war,
they are part of the problem, not part of the solution as far
as the US is concerned.
Thus US opposition to the French proposals circulated in the Security
Council on 11 Feb. 'The French proposal, also sent to the arms
inspection team, was reported last night to include doubling or
tripling the number of inspectors, increasing aerial surveillance
to make sure a site remains "frozen" after inspectors
have seen it and using mobile customs teams to tighten up on illegal
smuggling by Iraq.' (Telegraph, 12 Feb., p. 14)
Hence the US opposition to the fulfilment of the provisions of
UN Resolution 1284, passed in Dec. 1999, which requires the drawing
up by weapons inspectors of a "work programme" including
'the key remaining disarmament tasks to be completed by Iraq'.
Security Council members may press for these "key disarmament
tasks" to be set out clearly and precisely (as Resolution
1284 requires) in any new UN Resolution. The US and UK are resisting
such ideas: 'They are worried that this would invite another interminable
series of discussions over whether Iraq has disarmed and whether
inspectors should be given more time, and may invite a third resolution.'
(Telegraph, 22 Feb.,. p. 14)
(See Briefing 31 for more.)
War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Why We Shouldnt Launch Another War
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