Joel Mowbray

The State Department is already making plans to “water down” the United Nations resolution calling for UN involvement in Iraq, according to several administration officials. 

  The exact form of potential changes is not entirely clear, but they will likely comport with requests from Security Council members, particularly Russia and France.  Notes one administration official, “They (State’s top leadership) are really going to be pushing for a unanimous vote.”

  State was no doubt pleased by President Bush’s recent comment that he is “open for suggestions” from other nations on the Security Council.  Many at State view the resolution as an opportunity to score points with countries like France, Germany, and Russia.  And although State probably does not want to do any favors for Syria, a concerted push for a unanimous vote could also entail just that.

  While always a feather in the cap, a unanimous vote is not necessary for passage of the latest measure.  At this point, passage is almost a forgone conclusion.  Only five nations have the power to veto a Security Council resolution: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China.  The UK obviously would not block a US-sponsored measure—and Russia, China, and France have all signaled through back channels that they will not veto the UN resolution, according to an administration official.

  The clear path to passage should come somewhat as a surprise, considering that many hawks inside the administration find the current text at least tolerable.  Strangest of all is probably France’s quiet agreement not to veto shortly after making very public noises about a possible veto.

  Yet France’s willingness to let the UN resolution go through—which could mean France staying neutral—does not seem to have curbed State’s desire to modify the existing language.  And the President’s apparent willingness to “compromise”—his word—means that the final product could come out bearing only moderate resemblance to the initial text.  According to those who have worked on the resolution, possible changes could include giving the UN more-defined roles in civilian administration, dictating the terms of how oil revenues can be used, and even placing a time limit on the military presence in Iraq.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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