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March 16, 2003

Chronology of "Rushing to War"

Synopsis

This piece is being written on Saturday, March 15, 2003. The Web headlines from AP and Jerusalem Post read:

World Rallies Over U.S.-Iraq Conflict
France, Germany and Russia restate opposition to war on Iraq
US loses hope on using Turkey for a northern front against Iraq
Bush, Allies Make Show of Unity in Azores

How did it come to pass that so many people throughout the world and so many politicians among US “allies” have rallied to defend a dictator whose hands are dripping with blood, while the same people curse the leader of the free world?

This question will probably be analysed for years, with the benefit of sufficient distance from the events to allow some perspective and to permit the search for “root causes”. Being in the picture, as we are at this moment, we suffer from the disadvantage that news stories swamp us continuously, so much so that at times it’s difficult to retain even a short-term perspective, let alone a long-term perspective. With this in mind, the objective of the present article is to trace and document the trail that the US has had to endure since the 2002 State of the Union address; the article will not attempt, however, to provide an in-depth analysis of the determinants.

The narrative below shows that by postponing action and seeking approval from the UN (subsequently referred to as the League of Nations II), the US permitted her enemies to mobilize, gather momentum and leave the US prestige in tatters. At the same time, Iraq was emboldened progressively, and gained time to prepare for an attack by US forces. To add insult to injury, the US is attempting to bribe some countries by sacrificing Israel, thus bringing disgrace upon the US, and confirming that loyalty to the US is a thankless policy.

As primary source material, this article uses mainly web-based information that can be easily accessed and verified. Upon readers’ request, I will e-mail any material from links that have been discontinued.

... And now the details

In his State of the Union Address (January 29, 2002), as archived by the White House official site, President Bush stated:
[S]ome governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will.
...
Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.
...
And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

By any standard, this statement was tantamount to a declaration of war on terrorist states, a unilateral war if necessary, with specific targets listed. As to Iraq, the reasons for US determination to act were also spelled out. A few days later, Colin “show restraint” Powell, elaborated further, in a presentation to the US Congress, as reported by AP:
"The United States might have to do it alone," Powell said at a House hearing.

Iraq is working on developing nuclear weapons, and its refusal to admit international arms inspectors prompted Bush to consider "the most serious set of options that one might imagine," Powell said.
But from the outset, the actions of the US administration negated the courageous statements made, and the US march on the path of humiliation began inevitably.

In March 2002, Cheney travelled to the Middle East to marshal support for the US plans. His first stop was Jordan, a recipient of millions in US aid. On March 12, 2002, one year ago, AP reported about what Cheney heard from his Jordanian host:

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney received a public warning Tuesday from Jordanian King Abdullah II that expanding the terrorism war to Iraq could destabilize the region and undermine gains in Afghanistan...

Abdullah set an opening-day tone for Cheney's trip with a pre-emptive warning about U.S. military action against Iraq.
A “public warning” from King Abdullah, to his pay-master and protector!

The reception in other Arab countries was not much kinder, as reported by AP on March 16:

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Vice President Cheney collected more rebuffs on Iraq Saturday even as he conveyed growing U.S. interest in a Saudi-sponsored Middle East peace initiative.

Cheney met with Saudi leaders who have expressed sharp reservations about any U.S. plan to move militarily against Iraq.

Saudi Arabia was the sixth stop on Cheney's 11-nation Middle East tour. Each of the six countries he has visited in the region so far has opposed a tougher stand on Iraq.
The remaining three Arab countries Cheney visited relayed the same message, and thus the envoy from the most powerful country in the world returned home empty-handed. Note, in particular, that even though Egypt is the recipient of US $2 billion annually, the Egyptian reaction was no different from that of the other Arab countries.

At the end of March 2002, an Arab summit was held in Beirut, and to add yet another insult to the US, the summit ended as follows, according to Reuters:
Arab leaders, who clapped when the heads of the Saudi and Iraqi delegations embraced before them, called for the definitive lifting of U.N. sanctions imposed for the Iraqi invasion, as well as for U.N. resolutions to be respected.

" We stress our total rejection of any attack on Iraq," they said in the Beirut Declaration read at the close of the summit.
The enthusiastic endorsement by his Arab friends hardened Saddam Hussein’s position, and the negotiations with the UN stalled. A typical report in this connection was released by Reuters on June 6, 2002 (the report is particularly important because it provides yet another answer to those who holler that the US is “rushing to war”):
UNITED NATIONS - U.N. Security Council members and the chief U.N. arms inspector expressed hope on Thursday that forthcoming talks between the United Nations and Iraq would be “decisive” and lead to the return of weapons experts after a more than three-year hiatus.

But Hans Blix, the executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, known as UNMOVIC, told reporters there were no positive signs from Iraq yet on the inspectors but “we hope that it will come.”

Interestingly, this report was released as the world was marking the 21st anniversary of Israel’s operation Osiraq; there is a glaring contrast between Israel’s courageous, decisive and skilful operation, on the one hand, and the way the the US and the League of Nations II have been handling the current Iraq crisis, on the other hand.

Throughout the summer of 2002, the US tried to marshal the support of her European allies, but here too, rebuff and humiliation came from many quarters (with the notable exception of the UK). On July 30, 2002, Reuters reported:
SCHWERIN, Germany (Reuters) - French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Tuesday they could not support any possible U.S. attack on Iraq without a United Nations mandate.

"An attack would only be justified if a mandate was approved by the U.N. Security Council. That is the position of Germany and France," Chirac told a joint news conference after a Franco-German summit in the eastern city of Schwerin.
Note that the Franco-German opposition we see today was clearly evident eight months ago, a full six months after the State of the Union Address. This fact should raise questions about the wisdom of Colin “show restraint” Powell, who led the US administration into the morass in which it now finds itself (granted that ultimately, it is Bush alone who bears the responsibility).

The Franco-German statement was precisely the encouragement Iraq needed in order to continue its games with the League of Nations II, simultaneously agreeing and refusing to allow the inspectors back into Iraq. Sadly, at this point Canada added her voice to the weasels, as the following Globe and Mail story, August 8, 2002, reports:

Mr. Graham said after a cabinet meeting that Canada would be loath to join any military operation against Iraq that lacks United Nations authorization.
Once again Iraq was emboldened, and a few days later, on August 12, 2002, AP reported on a declaration from an Iraqi minister:

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq are over, the nation's information minister said Monday in the clearest rejection yet of American and U.N. demands to allow inspectors to resume their work after a four-year standoff.
And thus, on 23 August 2002, the Guardian was able to provide this summary of the opposition to the US position:

In Moscow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov called the idea of an attack on Iraq “unacceptable,” and he said his country did not agree Saddam should be ousted. On Monday, Russia confirmed it was talking with Iraq about a 10-year trade agreement.
...
Many U.S. allies say they are not convinced the Iraqi leader poses an imminent danger.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said he would not send troops to what he called an “adventure” in Iraq, and Canadian Defense Minister John McCallum said it was “very unlikely” Canada would participate unless Bush provided stronger evidence of an Iraqi threat. Germany and Canada both sent soldiers to Afghanistan.

Other European allies have been noncommittal, while Middle Eastern states that gave crucial help in the Persian Gulf War have said they oppose or have serious doubts about fighting Saddam now.
...
In Britain, a recent poll said half the people surveyed did not want the nation's military to participate in an attack on Iraq.

Italy will allow the use of its airspace but will commit troops to an attack only if it gets proof Saddam is producing nuclear weapons, Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino said.

French President Jacques Chirac has said an attack could only be justified if authorized by the U.N. Security Council. But he also has warned Iraq it must let U.N. weapons inspectors back in.

Opposition to an attack is strong in the Middle East, where support from Arab states was key to the 1991 Gulf War.
...
In NATO member Turkey, leaders have publicly opposed a war, but the country is in desperate need of foreign loans to recover from a financial crisis and may have little choice but to back any American action.
...
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, increasingly regarded as a moderate Muslim voice, has warned that a U.S. war with Iraq would fuel extremism.
The positions of the Arab states, Russia, France and Germany were repeated time and time again during the summer months, with no sign that their views were about to change. Rather than take a tough stand and prepare to lead the war against Iraq, and rather than launch a world-wide educational campaign, the US administration engaged in attempts to persuade the leadership of her “allies” and “partners”; in so doing the US needlessly wasted political capital, displayed weakness, and allowed her foes to mobilize even further. For example, on September 6, 2002, AP reported that
President Bush telephoned leaders of China, Russia and France on Friday in hopes of softening their opposition to ousting Saddam Hussein, but he made little noticeable progress.
And on September 9, the State Department had this to report:
The President this morning began with an intelligence briefing, followed by an FBI briefing. And before he left the White House he started working the phones, calling leaders around the world to discuss Iraq and his speech to the U.N.

The President spoke already today with Prime Minister Sezer of Turkey, with U.N. Security General Kofi Annan, with the presidency of the European Union and the Prime Minister of Denmark Rasmussen. He will also before the day is over call Lord Robertson, President Mubarak of Egypt, and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The President is calling as part of his ongoing consultations with leaders around the world about the situation in Iraq, and he's also urging them to listen carefully to his speech at the United Nations.
...But nobody was listening. On the contrary - countries like Turkey engaged in deliberate defiance. A typical example is the following AP report dated September 6, 2002, under the heading, Turkey defies Bush, sends large delegation on official visit to Iraq :
A large Turkish delegation arrived in the Iraqi capital Friday, openly defying Washington's call for support to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Turkish Health Minister Osman Durmus and about 100 officials, business executives and doctors were met at Baghdad airport by Durmas' Iraqi counterpart, Omed Mubarak. The visit came just a day after Arab states declared their allegiance to Iraq, saying at the end of a foreign ministers' meeting U.S. threats against Baghdad are threats against the whole Arab world.

Ironically, this report was released on the same day that another AP report informed as follows:
The head of a U.N. weapons inspection team banned by Baghdad said Friday that satellite photos of Iraq show unexplained construction at sites the team used to visit in its search for evidence that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop nuclear arms.
Faced with Iraqi defiance on the one hand, and obstructions by the “allies” on the other hand, the Bush administration committed the grave error of turning to the League of Nations II. On September 12, 2002, a full year after 9-11 and nine months after his State of the Union Address, Bush delivered his speech, in which he told the General Assembly (according to the official White House site):

In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities -- which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.
...
In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge.
...
From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs, and aircraft spray tanks. U.N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared, and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.

United Nations' inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.

And in 1995, after four years of deception, Iraq finally admitted it had a crash nuclear weapons program prior to the Gulf War. We know now, were it not for that war, the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993.
...
Delegates to the General Assembly, we have been more than patient. We've tried sanctions. We've tried the carrot of oil for food, and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time we may be completely certain he has a -- nuclear weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one. We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming.
...
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions
...
If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear.
In view of what seemed to be US resolve, as expressed by Bush, Iraq immediately began the game of allowing/rejecting the inspectors to return to Iraq. Specifically, a few days after the bush speech to the League of Nations II, Iraq had a letter circulated among Security Council members, suggesting that the inspectors could return to Iraq. The result, as presented by AP:
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - A divided U.N. Security Council appeared to be heading for a standoff over a new ultimatum to Iraq, with the United States stepping up preparations for war even as weapons inspectors planned their return to Baghdad.

A day after Iraq's surprise decision to allow the inspectors back in after nearly four years, the near-global support for the Security Council to get tough on Iraq shattered Tuesday with Russia and Arab nations now opposing the U.S. demand for action
...
[T]he unraveling of support for new U.N. action against Iraq was swift.
Whether it was Saddam’s cunning alone, or whether it was the Franco-German-Russian complicity and connivance, the fact is that Saddam outmanoeuvred Colin “show restraint” Powell, and US prestige and leadership lay in ruins. So effective was Saddam’s strategy, that it took the Security Council eight weeks to pass any resolution, and even the resolution that passed (1441), was merely a watered-down version of what the US had wanted. The resolution passed on November 8, consisted of a watered-down version of what the US and the UK worked for initially, and many concessions had to be made to France to secure her vote. 1441 also incorporated built-in traps that protected Saddam from any automatic use of force if he continued to defy the League of Nations II. But with all its flaws, the text of the resolution (see full text) refers to Chapter VII (which is binding, unlike the resolutions re Israel which were passed under the non-binding Chapter VI); the first paragraphs state specifically that the Security Council
1. Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq's failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991);

2. Decides, while acknowledging paragraph 1 above, to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council; and accordingly decides to set up an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687 (1991) and subsequent resolutions of the Council...
It is significant to recall these clauses when assessing the depth of the Franco-German-Russian perfidy being committed currently (March, 2003).

By his comments subsequent to the vote, Bush staked the prestige of his office on this resolution, saying, according to the official white House record
With the resolution just passed, the United Nations Security Council has met important responsibilities, upheld its principles and given clear and fair notice that Saddam Hussein must fully disclose and destroy his weapons of mass destruction. He must submit to any and all methods to verify his compliance. His cooperation must be prompt and unconditional, or he will face the severest consequences.
...
The resolution approved today presents the Iraqi regime with a test -- a final test. Iraq must now, without delay or negotiations, fully disarm; welcome full inspections, welcome full inspections, and fundamentally change the approach it has taken for more than a decade.
Brave words aside, the resolution lacked essential elements of a “final test”: (i) it stated no deadline, giving Iraq an indefinite breathing space; (ii) it allowed US opponents and Iraq’s supporters (such as the Franco-German-Russian axis and the appeasers from the “antiwar movement”) to organize and gather momentum; and (iii) it left the next step nebulous and ambiguous: were the “serious consequeces”, whatever they may be, automatic or did they require yet another UN resolution?

Inspector teams were dispatched to Iraq in short order, but because of the resolution flaws, Iraq was able to continue to toy with the “international community” and humiliate the US. Indeed, the inspections turned into a farce, a typical example being the fact that the Iraqis were forewarned about the sites to be inspected. Incredible as this may seem, it was reported by AFP and run even by Arabia.com on December 01, 2002. The report reads:
UN admits Iraqi official had advance knowledge of inspection

BAGHDAD (AFP) - A spokesman for UN arms inspectors in Baghdad admitted the head of a suspected weapons site had prior knowledge of a visit by the experts to his facility earlier in the day.

"He was informed the day before (Friday) that the team was coming to remove an air sampler and install a new one," Hiro Ueki told AFP.
More significant was the fact that Iraq refused to disarm (for example, by failing to account for the biological and chemical WMD that Iraq was known to posses), and when the inspectors kept coming up empty-handed, the anti-US propaganda machine tried to convince public opinion that Iraq had no weapons to disclose!

On December 7, 2002, Iraq submitted to the UN a report that was supposed to have complied with the UN demand for complete disclosure. What Iraq did submit (in Arabic, no less), is described by Times Online, December 8, 2002, as follows:
IRAQ defied American warnings to disclose its weapons of mass destruction by denying their existence yesterday in a 11,807-page dossier that a senior British diplomat immediately dismissed as "the mother of all gobbledegook".
At this point the US missed another opportunity to show decisive leadership. Rather than declare Iraq in breach of Resolution 1441 and act accordingly, the State Department decided to “show restraint”, as the Jerusalem Post reported on Dec. 19, 2002:
The White House said Wednesday there were serious omissions and problems with Iraq's weapons declaration, but President George W. Bush decided the violation of a UN resolution was not an immediate cause for war.
...
Bush intends to use the declaration to build a strong public case against Iraq, starting with a speech Friday in Washington, condemning Saddam Hussein for failing to disclose his weapons of mass destruction as required under the UN resolution, one official said.
The Washington Post of December 20 was even more direct, adding one of those “but”s:
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday that Iraq's declaration of its weapons of mass destruction programs "totally fails" to meet U.N. Security Council requirements for full disclosure and constitutes "another material breach" of United Nations resolutions.

Iraq's "defiance" of the international community "has brought it closer to the day when it will have to face . . . consequences," Powell said. "The world will not wait forever." But he indicated that a final determination, and a decision on whether to disarm Iraq with military force, will not be made for several weeks.
The “but” once again indicates that the US administration went wobbly and failed to show decisive leadership.

For those who may ask, “where are the specifics” of Iraq’s violations, the State Department provided (on December 19, 2002) a list of examples of Iraqi omissions, under these headings:

Anthrax and Other Undeclared Biological Agents; Ballistic Missiles; Nuclear Weapons; VX; Chemical and Biological Weapons Munitions; Empty Chemical Munitions; Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Programs; Mobile Biological Weapon; Agent Facilities.

In line with this State Department document was a Reuters report issued on December 23, 2002, and entitled, Iraqi Dossier Missing Data on 6,000 Chemical Bombs. Clearly, the data were in the public domain, but the selling, even to the US public, was poor, and many throughout the world continued to ask for “proof”. This question kept being asked even as proof poured in from the Blix inspectors themselves. For example, on January 10, 2003, the Guardian ran a story with the headline, Iraq violated UN sanctions by importing missile engines . There were also violations of 1441 associated with interviewing scientists, flights of U2 spy planes etc. On January 16, 2002, Reuters reported yet another violation:
U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq on Thursday found empty warheads designed to carry chemical warfare agents, a U.N. spokesman said in Baghdad.
But nothing could move the League of Nations II to enforce its own resolutions.

Amazingly, in spite of the accumulating evidence, a wave of antiwar and anti-Israel demonstrations erupted in many countries on the weekend of 18-19 January, 2003. Slogans held by the demonstrators, such as "Disarm USA" or "No Blood for Oil", highlight just how poorly the Bush administrations did in getting its message across. These demonstrations increased greatly in subsequent weeks with millions throughout the world participating in the rallies of February 15th (see Reuters report). Even as this piece is being written, the news agencies report that additional rallies took place today (Saturday, March 15), with more planned for tomorrow.

On January 27, over two months after the UN passed Resolution 1441, Blix presented his report to the Security council. Among other things, Blix stated:
Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance – not even today – of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace.
Even this explicit statement brought no action from either the US or the League of Nations II. During the last days of January, 2003, Bush did meet with leaders from Italy, Saudi Arabia and the UK, but no action was taken beyond talk.

The result of this inaction and wavering resolve on the part of the US could have been predicted. The Franco-German-Russian position hardened, other countries, such as Turkey joined the appeasement camp, and Iraq’s Chutzpah ascended to new heights. For example, on February 2, 2003, the Straits Times reported under the headline, Iraq threatens suicide attacks against Americans:
BAGHDAD -- A defiant Iraq threatened on Saturday to unleash suicide attacks against US nationals in the Middle East and to wipe out any invading force should Washington wage a new war against it.
Coincidentlly, on February 3, 2003, one day after this statement was made, Blix’ inspectors discovered prohibited missile warheads.

As more time passed with no action, the appeasement forces grew stronger. Even the pope added his voice to this camp. But perhaps the most bitter pill of all was NATO’s refusal to lend a hand, led by the Franco-German opposition, and now supported also by Belgium. On February 11, 2003, AP reported:

France, Germany and Belgium refused Tuesday to lift their veto of U.S.-backed plans to bolster Turkish defenses against a possible Iraqi missile attack, leaving NATO mired in one of the worst crises in the alliance's 53-year history.
And in a comprehensive story published the same day, AP observed:
London - The United States' drive to disarm Iraq by force hit mounting global opposition Tuesday, with Russia warning that military action without United Nations consent would be a "grave error" and China backing calls to give UN weapons inspectors more time.

With the world's other big powers lining up against Washington, the NATO alliance was in disarray, failing for a second day to support a U.S.-backed proposal to begin military planning for a conflict with Iraq.
A few days later, the old scenario repeated itself: as though to mock the inaction of the “international community”, a letter from Blix, dated 21 February 2003, and posted by MSNBC, confirmed the discovery of illegal Al Samoud 2 missiles in Iraq’s possession; in defiance, Iraq refused to destroy them. It took weeks of haggling until Iraq relented in the first week of March 2003. AP news for March 11 brought two additional incidnets in which Iraq mocked the US: The first concerned Iraq firing on U-2 planes:
Iraqi fighter jets threatened two American U-2 surveillance planes, forcing them to abort their mission and return to base, senior U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The second item referred to the discovery of Iraq’s drones:
In a 173-page dossier on Iraq's weapons programs given to council members last Friday, Blix reported that inspectors recently discovered a drone with a wingspan of over 24.5 feet that had not been declared by Iraq.
The significance of the latter item stems from the fact that it comes on the heels of a Times revelation, March 9, 2003, according to which,
Saddam Hussein has been trying to acquire a fleet of 300 drones equipped with spraying devices capable of delivering chemical and biological weapons, it was revealed last week.
In recent days, as the US continued to seek the support of other nations, the “allies” increased their demands for bribes, with Turkey demanding $32 billion in grants and loan guaranties. The US-UK coalition kept announcing that submitting a resolution to the Security Council was imminent, and that not even the threat of a French veto would prevent it, but in fact, no resolution was presented to the League of Nations II, at least not to date. As late as Thursday, March 13, the brave words continued, as reported by Reuters:
UNITED NATIONS - The United States was determined to force a Security Council vote on Iraq this week, U.S. officials said as Britain considered dropping a disarmament ultimatum for Saddam Hussein as a way of saving its battered resolution.
But nothing of the like actually transpired. In retrospect, the idea of attaining the holy grail of 9 votes on the Security Council will definitely sound bizarre, and with the low probability of attaining it - even with bribes - one should wonder why Bush decided to waste so much political capital on so trivial an objective.

News about the next acts in this drama of inaction and appeasement came on Friday, March 14, 2003. One item informed that a US-UK-Spain conference is to be held in the Azores on Sunday, 15 March 2003, a news item with which this article opened (see UPI report). The second item reported about a Bush statement reviving the Roadmap. It is difficult to interpret the latter in any way other than as an attempt to sacrifice Israel in order to appease the Arabs and to ease the pressure on Blair by his own countrymen and party members. Of all the questionable steps taken by the Bush administration, to my mind, this is the most ignoble - to this point. No doubt, there is more to come.

Israel already knows that she is always the first to be sacrificed, and the recent Bush statement should come as no surprise. But if there is anything new for Israel to learn from this story, it is the significance of mobilizing one’s supporters. So far, Israel’s achievements in this area are hardly spectacular.

Contributed by Joseph Alexander Norland. This piece is cross-posted on IsraPundit and Dawson Speaks.