Note: There is a significant difference of opinion encapsulated in this and the following article, but both speak of an administration that is rapidly running out of diplomatic room to maneuver. The first article describes a number of administration advisees, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, informing Bush that he and the push for war on Iraq are set to take an embarrassing diplomatic pounding at the United Nations. These men are advising Bush to withdraw, seek political cover in the arrest of alleged 9/11 mastermind , rather than suffer a defeat before the Security Council. The second article reports that the administration is mulling over a plan to avoid a vote in the UN, but leaves a unilateral invasion very much on the table. "The president has made clear," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer is quoted as saying, "that whether the United Nations votes or does not vote, that we will disarm Saddam Hussein with a coalition of the willing," It has been clear in recent weeks that the hawks have come to rule the roost in Washington. It appears that, perhaps for the last time, there is again a struggle in the White House between those who want war now and those who have been advocating for a more diplomatic solution.
Advisors warn Bush he faces "humiliating" defeat on UN resolution
By CHB Staff
Mar 4, 2003, 06:22
Senior aides to President George W. Bush say he faces a humiliating defeat before the United Nations Security Council next week.
And signs emerged today that the U.S. may withdraw the resolution from security council consideration.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, fresh from his latest round of meetings with representatives of countries on the Security Council, delivered the bad news to Bush on Monday.
"You will lose, Mr. President," Powell told Bush. "You will lose badly and the United States will be humiliated on the world stage."
Powell told Bush he has only four of the nine votes needed for approval of a second resolution. As a result, some White House advisors are now urging the President to back off his tough stance on war with Iraq and give UN weapons inspectors more time.
"We have no other choice," admits one Bush advisor. "We don't have the votes. We don't have the support."
Presidential spokesman Ari Fleisher, in today's press briefing, appeared to signal a U.S. retreat from demanding a vote next week, saying "the president has said he believes that a vote is desirable. It is not mandatory."
John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that while it is too early for the United States to withdraw the resolution, "we haven't crossed that bridge," Negroponte said.
Powell told Bush on Monday that Turkey's refusal to allow U.S. troops to stage at the country's border with Iraq doomed any chance of consensus at the UN.
"Many were watching Turkey," Powell told Bush. "Had they agreed, it might have helped us sway critical votes."
Powell met privately today with Mexico Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez to try and "parse" new language for the second resolution to satisfy a Mexican request to modify the text and extend the deadline for weapons inspections.
"It (the meeting) did not produce results," a Powell spokesman said afterwards.
Publicly, Powell is leaving the door open for the U.S. to withdraw the resolution, telling a German television interviewer: "At the start of next week we'll decide when, depending on what we have heard, we will vote on a resolution. It will be a difficult vote for the U.N. Security Council."
Some Bush aides now admit privately that the President, for all his tough talk, may have to back down and postpone his plans to invade Iraq in the near future, delaying any invasion until April or May at the earliest.
"The vote in Turkey fucked things up big time," grumbles one White House aide. "It pushes our timetable back. On the other hand, it might give us a chance to save face."
"Saving face" could mean backing away from a showdown with the UN Security Council next week and agreeing to let the weapons inspection process run its course.
"The arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed gives us some breathing room," says a Bush strategist. "We can concentrate on the favorable publicity generated by the arrest and the valuable intelligence we have gained from that event."
Mohammed, arrested in Pakistan, masterminded the 9-11 terrorist attacks. CIA agents found computer files, memos and other materials which pointed to plans for new attacks against the U.S.
"The prudent thing to do would be to let Iraq cool off on a back burner and concentrate on Mohammed," says Republican strategist Arnold Beckins. "Saddam isn't going anywhere. There's too much heat on him right now for him to pull something."
But a delay would not mean a war with Iraq is off. Most Bush strategists and Pentagon military planners agree that the U.S. will probably have to take military action sooner or later.
Right now, only the U.S., Britain and Spain favor immediate military action against Iraq. With most of the other allies lining up against the U.S., Bush faces both a diplomatic and public relations nightmare if he proceeds against Hussein without setting a proper public stage.
"We've always needed an exit strategy," admits a White House aide. "Circumstances have given us one. Perhaps we shouldn't ignore it."