March 17, 2003

Powell Strikes Back During a

Powell Strikes Back

During a day that we are all waiting (for a vote, a primetime presidential address, something?)--the NYT now gives us its take regarding the "bad diplomacy" argument ie, how the U.S. got to this juncture with allegedly so few allies. (See my earlier reaction to this line of argument here).

Not much new ground here, but a very interesting quote leaked, surely, by the Powell camp.

"Be sure about one thing," Mr. Powell told Dominique de Villepin, the French Foreign Minister. "Don't vote for the first, unless you are prepared to vote for the second." Mr. de Villepin assented, officials who were there said."

Powell is issuing two main messages with this leak: 1) to continue to ratchet the pressure up on the French (and quell their revisionistic instincts per my earlier post) and 2) to cover his flank with the Cheney/Rumsfeld crowd. The Vice President and Defense Secretary, of course, never even wanted to go the U.N. route back on September 12th. They are likely telling Dubya, "see, we told you so." We've lost over five months to Colin's U.N. bargaining and it has gotten us nowhere.

But, believe me, despite all the bad will in the air--I suspect it would have been far worse had we ditched the U.N. route altogether and not even tried to get UNSC approval. For one, Dubya would not have the support of leaders like Tony Blair, Jose Aznar, Silvio Berloscuni, John Howard, the Poles, the Japanese, and so on. So Powell, in effect, is signaling by the leak that Cheney is wrong in this appraisal. That it has been worth four or five months to try to get a cohesive UNSC posture, a fuller imprimatur of international authority--and that it was within grasp--if only key actors like the French were operating in good faith. Alas, they never really were.


UPDATE: Well, needless to say, we now know what we were waiting for in the A.M. Not a vote (see above) but certainly a Presidential address to the nation.

Posted by Gregory at March 17, 2003 01:47 PM
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