Friday, March 14, 2003

So now it's doomed again?

U.S. officials in recent days have claimed, without providing evidence, that they were within striking distance of reaching the necessary nine votes on the deeply divided Security Council. But officials were noticeably gloomy today after a British compromise offered Wednesday was largely rejected by the six countries that are officially undecided.

In addition to an almost certain French veto, and the possibility of a Russian veto, officials said they were convinced they would not even achieve what they call the "moral victory" of nine votes among the council's 15 member nations.

"It looks pretty grim," one senior administration official said. Another senior U.S. official said: "There is no reason to believe positions will change today or tomorrow."
Ok, at this point I just want to know who these duelling officials are and where they work, because this is getting honestly tiring. Tiring and more than a little frightening. If the group crowing about getting their votes is proved this wrong, this quickly, then the question arises of whether the violent spinning that characterizes the Bush administration has given way to an out-and-out campaign of anonymous lying.

I can see why it would be done, too. Foreign leaders reading the U.S. newspapers or watching U.S. media would no doubt believe that things were inevitable, that they were that (conveniently unnamed) single holdout, and that if they don't go along with the U.S. they'll be solely responsible for thwarting the desires of the U.S. (with all the economic reprisals that will no doubt go along with it.)

Still, it's not a good idea. An official version of the old cop tactic of claiming that "the other guy has cracked" might be cunning strategy, but it's poor diplomacy, because if the truth comes out (or even a competing account, as has happened here) the credibility and foreign relations of the government in question are seriously damaged.

Then again, considering this:

U.S. and British officials believe that the French veto promise has made it easier for uncommitted governments to turn against the resolution since it has no chance of passage. All of them, particularly the Latin American nations and Pakistan, face widespread antiwar pressure at home.
...and considering the U.S. reaction to it-- especially if the U.S. eventually fails in getting U.N. support and Britain pulls out-- I doubt that relations are going to be too warm anyway. The idea that the anti-war stand of the French is giving other countries the nerve to stand up to the Hegemon isn't going to go over well with the empire-builders in the Executive branch, and a political hit like that will no doubt prompt very serious responses from this oh-so-politically conscious administration.

Maybe SDB isn't that far off on the prospect of a military conflict (or some kind of new extra-frosty Cold War) between France and the United States. The question, though, is who's going to openly declare hostilities. "Freedom Fries" may be only the beginning. For the sake of pretty much the entire planet, however, I hope not.

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