2002 November 04 Monday
Amir Taheri on the French Plan To Prevent Iraq War

Will Colin Powell and Tony Blair manage to convince Bush to stay dedicated to the UN Security Council route for so long that Bush will turn out to be a suckered by the French?

On the basis of interviews with various sources in Paris, it looks as if the French leader's plan is devised in two phases.

The first phase consists of efforts to prevent the passage of a Security Council resolution that would give the U.S. a legal basis for removing Saddam Hussein from power.

Chirac wants the U.N. weapons' inspectors to return to Iraq and operate within a timeframe determined by themselves, not Washington.

Hans Blix, the Swedish diplomat who heads the team of inspectors says he may need up to 18 months before he could report to the Security Council.

Assuming that the inspectors are in Iraq by Christmas, the Blix timetable would take us into the summer of 2004. Even if he reports at that time that the Iraqis have not cooperated with his team, the issue would have to be raised by the Security Council so that a new resolution, authorizing the use of force, is discussed.

I see no reason to waste much time feeling anger toward the French leadership for playing this cynical game. The important question is this: Is Bush dumb enough to fall for it? I am not confident that he's not. He's already made many highly questionable concessions in the UN negotiations and just going to the UN in the first place makes no sense except as a way to help Tony Blair. The inspectors may end up going into Iraq and spending many months running around playing hide-and-seek with the Iraqis. The best chance for a regime change in Iraq would be if the French exercised their UN Security Council veto over the final US draft proposal and the US then responded by abandoning UN negotiations. Then the UNMOVIC games would never start and the US could attack at the time of its choosing.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 November 04 06:47 PM  UN, International Institutions


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