The first taste of what could be in store should happen this weekend, when Secretary of State Colin Powell travels to Geneva, Switzerland to meet with representatives from France, Britain, Russia, and China. The State Department’s official line is that only concepts will be discussed, and that there will be no negotiations on details of the resolution.
While the gathering of representatives of the five permanent Security Council members will probably not be a bargaining session, it will be the first place where Powell indicates to his counterparts in private how tough the U.S. will be at the actual negotiating table. With some in the administration seeking to have a final deal sealed by the time the President addresses the UN on September 23, discussions of the details likely will come right on the heels of the Geneva meeting.
On the plus side, likely to stay put is the one mild paragraph that defines the U.S. as the leader of the “unified” military force; no other country has an incentive for anyone besides the US in a position to shoulder the blame for military failures.
One of the most likely deals to be struck will not probably not appear anywhere in the final resolution. France and Russia—two countries that sided with Saddam before the war—want in on the big-dollar contracts in Iraq. Although the American companies with the large contracts are already subcontracting to foreign firms, France and Russia are pushing for explicit assurances that their companies will get a cut of the action.
With the UN resolution moving forward at a fairly brisk pace, the State Department has two options: 1) taking advantage of “no veto” pledges from the other Security Council members to push through a resolution almost identical to the initial text, or 2) attempting to win brownie points from countries who opposed liberation of the Iraqi people in the course of securing a needless unanimous vote. Unfortunately for the Iraqi people, the State Department seems prepared to take the latter path.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, 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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