Tony Blair is between a rock and a hard place. His public and a significant portion of his parliamentary Labour Party are opposed to an attack on Iraq without UN approval. But George W. Bush may call him up asking for Britain to join in such an attack within 30 days from now.
One issue is crucial. Polls indicate that if the United Nations authorises an invasion of Iraq, then 73 percent of the British public will back it. But what if the United Nations doesn't?
"When you ask those same people what if the U.N. doesn't take action but the U.S. leads an attack on Iraq, how do you feel about using British troops then, it's now down to about 22 percent," says Peter Kellner, chairman of UK pollster YouGov.
It would probably take months of inspections for firm evidence of forbidden Iraqi weapons to be discovered. In my opinion it is unlikely that Bush will let inspections go on for that long before starting the invasion. Even if firm evidence was discovered by UNMOVIC or IAEA inspectors it is far from clear that Russia, France, and China would all vote to approve military action. Also, from a military point of view an attack under those circumstances would be far from ideal. There'd be basically no element of surprise and the Iraqi regime may be able to launch missiles with biological or chemical weapon warheads at Israel and at alliance military concentrations in Kuwait and other locations in the region.
Consider Blair's choices. If he doesn't go along with Bush then he loses support of the US for other purposes and damage to relations between the US and UK will be considerable. But Blair risks a rebellion from his own backbenchers if he tries to go forward with the attack. So what's he to do? He's got to figure that if he can manage to carry his Cabinet along to support the attack that within a week or two of the beginning of the attack US and UK soldiers will have captured Iraqi chemical and biological weapons stores and probably nuclear weapons development labs. Some of the critics will still be after him for failing to be more supportive of the UN and international multilateral "We Are The World" naive impractical utopian nonsense. But the wind will be out of their sails. So I say Blair goes along with the Bush attack unless Blair can convince Bush to delay till autumn. Will Bush feel enough obligation to Blair to hold back for Blair's political benefit?
The attack on Iraq is a character test for Dubya. He can push thru against all the international resistance and by March 1st have the evidence he needs to his decision. Or he can choke, take too long, and lose momentum while giving the rogue WMD proliferating states more time to do WMD development.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 January 11 06:37 PM Military War, Rumours Of War|