Rumsfeld: US will go to war even without Britain
donaloc at hotmail.com
Wed Mar 12 03:11:55 MST 2003
Just a brief summary of what's been happening in Britain over the last few
weeks. In short, it appears as if Blair and his Government have walked
themselves into the biggest trap since their ascession to leadership.
Firstly, there was the burgeoning anti-war movement and a pretty widespread
anti-Bush opinion - which the Blairites only added succour to by providing
blatently plagurised documents and repeatedly changing their position. Then
there is the fact that Channel 4 News and the Mirror have both taken up a
very anti-war position and exposed the Govt's dishonesty in a most
In response to this, Blair's original line that resolution 1441 was
sufficient for war was changed to the preference for a second resolution and
then subsequently to the statement that the Govt is working towards a Second
resolution (with which they now seem to answer all questions). Last week, it
appeared that they were more confident that the US could 'buy off' the
floating votes on the UNSC, and that Russia and France would be intimidated
into not using their veto. In these circumstances, the Blairites fought off
a massive back-bench rebellion by assuring members that they would get a
Three days ago, Clare Short, Minister for International Development, and one
of the only (reformed) left-wingers to be accepted into the Blair cabinet
came out and called Blair's actions 'reckless'. She also promised to resign
if no second resolution was passed and Britain went to war. Perhaps the most
telling indication of Blair's difficulties is the fact that Clare remains in
her position and he couldn't 'sack' her on the spot as any other Prime
Minister would have. Meanwhile, the Labour Party began hearing its first
mumbles about a leadership challenge - not from Brown as might be
anticipated but the left.
Two days ago, Pres. Chirac stated categorically that the French would veto
any second resolution. Yesterday, the Russians said that they would veto any
resolution including a reference to military attacks. The Cameroon
representative speaking on behalf of the 6 floating votes said that they
required at least 6 weeks further on the deadline in order to support a
second resolution (although it appears in private this offer was reduced to
only a 3 week delay). The US, of course, rejected any such talk out of hand.
Meanwhile, a desperate Blair was unexpectedly slow-hand clapped by a crowd
of women (the core New Labour voters). The British diplomats are now trying
to pass a resolution offering concrete timed objectives for the Iraquis to
complete and possibly extra time (although they appear to be holding their
cards close to their chest on that). This of course, will not satisfy the US
authorities and it's unlikely that anything will be passed in the UNSC which
will provide cover for the Blairites. They will have to face the maximal
dissension both internally and throughout Britain. Blair's only hope in
these circumstances is that the Iraqui people welcome the US troops in
without any serious fighting and that Hussein gets killed by his own people.
Unlikely in my book.
The statement by Rumsfeld should be seen in this context, Blair is caught
between the determination of the US to go to war very soon and his promise
to bring back an impossible Second Resolution to keep his own party and
population on-side. Yesterday, Blair began to start talking about
'unreasonable' vetoes such as that promised by the French premier. Its just
possible that Rumsfeld is offering a way out for the British mooting their
possible inability to join the conflict - although it's most likely Rumsfeld
has just put his foot in his mouth again. In reality, the statement will
only increase pressure on Blair by allowing the left inside Labour to raise
this as a realistic possibility and weaken his ability to negotiate in New
As time stretches on new difficulties are emerging - centrally the
possibility that British troops may be acting 'illegally' in slaughtering
the innocent. Apparently, there's a possibility that Iraqui businessmen
could sue for lost revenues!
With their crisis of authority, the British Govt is entering an area of
diminishing returns - their need for a second resolution weakens their
negotiating hand, which reduces the likelihood of bringing on the
independent states further, which increases the pressure on them to deliver.
Over here, the Six County peace talks remain log-jammed although some
progress was made in terms of British demilitarisation (partial withdrawal)
and a number of other issues. The London and Dublin authorities will present
a common paper which will set out the way forward (in their eyes) in the
next month or so. The absolute spinelessness of the Dublin 'Government' was
demonstrated when they agreed 'sanctions' should be adopted compromising
Sinn Fein's electoral mandate - beyond the terms of the original Good Friday
Agreement. It was over this issue, that the current negotiations collapsed.
The British have postphoned the election for about 4 weeks and negotiations
are set to continue in late March, early April.
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