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IRAQ: Who is to blame, the US or France?

Military manoeuvres are child's play compared with diplomatic ones. The UN Security Council match has as its goal to show that either the US or France is responsible for the failure of talks with Iraq. Reuters (14/3/03) says: "After an extraordinarily chaotic day of diplomatic maneuvering, Britain, with only provisional backing from the United States, circulated six tests to Security Council members that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had to fulfill to avoid war. But UN diplomats thought the list of British conditions would be next to impossible for Saddam to accept without fatally weakening his power. France and Russia, who have veto power, viewed Britain's last-ditch effort to save the resolution with skepticism, while German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger asked why the proposal was presented only by Britain and not the United States or Spain, saying members had to be certain all the resolutions' sponsors were behind it. In another sign of the intense diplomatic pressure Washington was bringing to bear, the US ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow, warned Moscow to think twice and "carefully weigh all the consequences," before using its UN veto. US officials said there was still a chance Russia and China would abstain, but France was seen as a definite "no" vote. That outcome would allow Washington to argue that it had international legitimacy and that France was the country defying the world community".

Ronald Hilton - 3/14/03