By Dick Morris
March 13, 2003
If the long awaited second resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq does not pass the United Nations Security Council, the Bush Administration should deconstruct the U.N. vote and pin the blame on specific countries.
It is one thing to ask Americans if they would support an invasion of Iraq if the United Nations approves, but quite another to ask if they would support it even if France or Russia or, should the US fail to get the required nine votes for passage, a country like Angola disapproves. By cracking open the process and identifying the nations that voted against us - or who vetoed the resolution - the Administration will salvage a public relations standoff from the jaws of defeat.
Indeed, Bush should go further and move to hang around the neck of the Security Council the same badge of irrelevance that now adorns the General Assembly. Would anyone think of asking the body that named Libya chairman of the disarmament committee and Iraq head of the panel on human rights what it thought of invading Baghdad? Ever since the General Assembly labeled Zionism a "form of racism" nobody has asked its opinion on anything. The same irrelevance must be pinned on the Security Council if it turns down the resolution.
If Bush and Powell get the nine votes needed to pass the resolution only to have the French, Russians and/or Chinese use their veto, the Administration line is obvious: We got the Council to agree but these permanent members vetoed the resolution and stood in the way of global opinion.
But if we fail to get the nine votes in the Security Council, we should identify the nations that voted "no" and, in effect, ask Americans if they want their foreign policy to be hostage to such nations. Except for Chile and Mexico, none of the swing votes in the Council are democracies and several have long records of human rights abuses. We should allude to their undemocratic conditions to dismiss their vote as irrelevant.
The United States should be willing to play hardball in pursuit of votes on the Council. If Chile opposes us, should we put plans for a free trade zone with them on hold? If Mexico votes no, should we not re-evaluate NAFTA?
In battling for the resolution, the Administration needs to point out that even the French concede that it is only because the US has 200,000 troops in Kuwait that Saddam is even pretending that he is disarming. We need to ask Paris how long they propose that we keep a goodly portion of our army there in order to give inspections a chance to work. Are the French prepared to pay for the cost of their maintenance? How about their combat readiness as we ask them to endure desert heat week after week, month after month, to give France and Russia time to go along? If the United Nations does not approve of the attack and the U.S. and Britain invade anyway, it will not hurt either of our two nations, but it will destroy the credibility of the United Nations. Countries like Angola, who have no power except their votes on the Security Council as elected members and nations like France whose sole claim to power is its veto, will suffer far more than we will. For us, going to the UN is the price we are paying for British support and for a measure of approval around the world. But for these nations, the UN is central to their world position. Anything which demeans it, strips them of their essential power in global affairs.
But, in a larger sense, we must realize that this is a war which will provide all the retroactive justification we will ever need. Any who doubt us now will become convinced by what we find when we occupy Iraq. The weapons, laboratories, and the testimony of Iraqi scientists will easily persuade any doubters that invasion was the only course.