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Jewish World Review Nov. 25, 2002 / 20 Kislev, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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The U.N. over a barrel


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | As the United States begins its diplomatic dance with Saddam Hussein on the one hand and the French-Russian axis in the U.N. Security Council on the other, it's important to realize the strength of the American political position.

Some people may want to be overly respectful of the French interpretation of the U.N. resolution on Iraq and overlook minor transgressions by Iraq, preferring to wait until we have a smoking gun before initiating military action. They will worry that too aggressive an interpretation of the latitude granted by the Security Council action may antagonize global support.

But we must not underestimate the power the United States wields to command Russian and French support if Iraq steps over the line delineated in the U.N. action two weeks ago. Neither Paris nor Moscow supported the United States out of the goodness of their heart. Both were motivated by two key considerations that will continue to command their attention in the months ahead.

First, it is no coincidence that the Security Council unanimously passed the U.S-.British resolution after - not before - the Republican victory in the congressional elections of 2002. Indeed, 72 hours after the polls closed, the resolution giving Iraq a "last chance" breezed through the United Nations after months of delicate negotiations. Obviously, both Russia and France were hoping that the American voter did not share the president's enthusiasm for disarming Iraq and preventing Saddam Hussein from acquiring the bomb. But when the election returns indicated a solid phalanx of backing from the American electorate, both countries had to sit up and take notice.

Bush had thought that a congressional resolution authorizing the use of force would send a sufficient signal of popular backing to the United Nations to motivate them to take American determination seriously. But as soon as the resolution was passed, Democrats began to make an issue of it, voicing their qualms about unilateral American action. The politicians who run French and Russian foreign policy undoubtedly were counting on an electoral reversal - normal in midterm elections - to disempower Bush and lend strength to their diplomatic demand that the United States be required to seek U.N. approval before launching military action. But when the votes were counted in the United States, they soon lined up in the United Nations for the Bush position.

Second, France has no global power whatsoever except for its seat on the U.N. Security Council. Who would pay any attention to her position otherwise? Her exalted position in the United Nations is an anachronism, left from the pre-World War II days when she was considered a great power. Russia, while still a power, has less and less leverage in the real world as its military decays and its economy stagnates. Neither nation could speak up to stop the United States without its seat on the U.N. Security Council. Notice how Germany, certainly more of a power than France, has had to remain relatively mute on the sidelines (after Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made an issue of Iraq in his elections) because it doesn't have a seat.

But what is the worth of the French or Russian seats on the Security Council if the United Nations itself is a mere spectator on the sidelines as international events unfold? If the United States attacks Iraq without U.N. backing, it is the United Nations which suffers, relegated to a back seat in global policymaking.

Just as the failure of the League of Nations to halt Italian aggression in Ethiopia doomed it to impotence in the 1930s, so a refusal by the United Nations to back U.S. action against Iraq would make it a worthless organization, without power or prestige.

Both France and Russia know how dependant on the United Nations they are. It is only through the institutional power of that body that they can make their national goals and views felt. If the United Nations cannot control the United States, why do we need a United Nations?

If Iraq steps over the line, the United States should aggressively react and the United Nations will follow, if only to preserve its relevance.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.

Up

11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2001, Dick Morris