William F. Buckley
!--BEGIN_TEXT-->George W. Bush is on a great roll. His speech on Thursday combined everything needed at this near-decisive moment. He gave our allies, Congress and the public exactly that -- what was needed. And he engaged in a venture in diplomatic craft that will make its way into the textbooks of the future, in all the languages spoken at the U.N. Security Council.

Here are the open questions: What is it that's now expected from the Security Council? And what is it that is needed from the Security Council?

The papers tell of discreet maneuvering by representatives of the great powers. France and Germany are most conspicuous here, France because of its serpentine maneuvers around blatant truths, Germany because it is the most powerful of the European nations. France has the veto, Germany doesn't. China does, and Russia does, but they seem to be preparing for a siesta when a fresh resolution is voted on. The parliamentary threat is that of France.

But what is it that opponents of the Bush policy will focus on? Here was the president at his shrewdest. In his speech, he recalled that Security Council Resolution 1441 was passed by a unanimous vote, that Saddam Hussein was enjoined to make a full declaration of his weapons program. "He has not done so" -- the judgment was biblical in its directness. And Saddam was enjoined to cooperate fully in disarmament. "He has not done so." What follows from this? "Now the Security Council will show whether its words have any meaning."

Mr. Bush went on to say that the United States would support a supplementary resolution. He did not specify the language of such a resolution. But he was saying, by the structure of his speech, that no new resolution is really required, that 1441 said it all; that the Iraqi regime had been called upon to do things it has not done, leaving it to the enforcers in the world to take the next step.

What the diplomats are apparently going on about is whether a resolution should now be passed specifically to the effect that the Security Council authorizes, and indeed encourages, the use of armed force to effect compliance. Such language sticks in the throat of some members. Cultural interpreters of Germany are saying something to the effect that Germany used up a century's ration of violence not so long ago, and couldn't possibly endorse violence again, even to restrain violence. There are reports from French realists that, when all is said and done, whatever their stand in the United Nations, they will come in with a few thousand troops and perhaps their aircraft carrier.

William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

Be the first to read William Buckley's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.