Sorry about the lack of posting. Mostly, it's been because things seem to have been in a holding pattern lately; everybody is awaiting the United States' invasion of Iraq, and even domestic politics in the U.S. seem to be in a kind of loop. The biggest news in the blogosphere seems to be the "flight of the liberals", as most of the liberal hawks (most visibly Kevin Drum) rethink their support of the invasion as their confidence in Bush plummets.
The big mainstream story is seems to be the battle at the U.N. (which feels like a tempest in a teapot, as the U.S. won't stand down no matter how the vote goes), and even that news is a little odd:
The United States dropped its plans to seek a Security Council vote today on a draft resolution that would open the door to a military strike against Iraq, but the White House insisted that it would secure a vote this week even as support for its position appeared to be withering.Perhaps I've missed something, but what exactly is the source of this confidence? Wishful thinking, or is there some kind of "secret weapon" Bush is planning to bring out? Not that the attempts to do so in the past have been overly successful, but maybe they've found something useful. Considering the (incredible to consider) castigation of U.S. intelligence by the U.N. inspectors, though, I kind of find that doubtful.
Of course, the key to understanding the U.N. vote (as everybody knows) isn't the U.S. really, it's Britain.
Britain, the United States' staunchest ally in its campaign to disarm Iraq, has begun to distance itself from the White House's insistence on confronting Baghdad with or without the United Nations' blessing. France and Russia said unequivocally on Monday that they planned to veto the draft resolution if and when a vote occurred.This isn't a military question, of course; the United States doesn't need the U.K. (or anybody, really) in order to invade. The problem is that without the U.K. the "coalition of the willing" is absolutely and entirely a joke, which creates diplomatic problems for the U.S. when it tries to do, well, anything else after the invasion.
While France and Russia have become familiar opponents of the United States in the Iraq debate, the possibility of a shift by Britain presages an even thornier diplomatic path ahead for the White House. Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain has come under strong domestic criticism of his support for the United States, criticism that has undermined his popularity and threatens the viability of his government.
In response, the British are now adopting a more temperate posture toward Iraq. Diplomats here say that Britain is hesitant to support military action against Iraq without United Nations backing and that it does not support the White House's advocacy of "regime change" in Baghdad to overthrow the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Of course, just what that is is an open question.