Bush gives ultimatum to the UN
Rhetoric apart no clear evidence that Iraq poses a threat to the US

LONDON- British Prime Minister Tony Blair's critics say he will probably never get sunburnt because he perpetually lives in the shadow of President George W. Bush.
Returning to London after a meeting with Bush in his Texas ranch, Blair delivered a predictable message last week.

Singing from Bush's well-worn hymn book, Blair tried to bolster the American president's proposed military adventure in Iraq even as British public opinion poll remained "firmly against armed conflict with Iraq."

Addressing the powerful federation of British trade unions in Liverpool last week, Blair laid out the case against Iraq but didn't win over sceptics to justify an Anglo-American armed attack on that country.

Bob Crow, head of the rail union, was quoted as saying: "He didn't convince me. He talked about consultation but he is clearly hell-bent on attacking Iraq. He does everything George Bush tells him to do."

Although very few express sympathy towards Saddam Hussein and his style of government, an overwhelming majority in the Western and Arab world say that a military attack is not the answer to the problem in Iraq.

Even the 11 year old UN embargo against Iraq- described by some as "dumb sanctions"- has devastated the country and its people but left the political leadership virtually untouched.

But as Blair and Bush begin to beat their war drums, the Iraqi President seems to be getting renewed political and diplomatic support because he is now perceived as an underdog challenging the world's only superpower: the United States.

In the Arab world, Saddam Hussein is no longer perceived as a tyrant but as a hero who has defied the United States because it is seeking to take control of his country's immense oil wealth.

As he addressed the United Nation last week, Bush failed to even produce a "smoking gun" to prove that Iraq is in possession of weapons of mass destruction, namely nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. President John F. Kennedy did a better job trying to provide evidence of long-range Soviet missiles in Cuba, located dangerously close to the United States, even though he did not go to war with that country.

After an intelligence briefing in Washington DC last week, Robert Mendez, a Democratic congressman, said: "What was described as new was not new. It was not compelling enough. Did I see a clear and present danger to the United States?. No."

Bush says that Saddam Hussein deserves to be ousted from power for two reasons.

One is that he is either developing or is in possession of weapons of mass destruction.

But so is Israel, India and Pakistan. But then, all three are friends or allies of the United States.

A second argument for a military attack is that Iraq is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

But so is Israel which has violated virtually every single UN resolution against it- even as it continues to openly defy the United Nations.

The American and British hypocrisy and double standards are so blatantly obvious as to insult the intelligence of the international community.

Both Blair and Bush are now using the United Nations as a fig-leaf to cover any unilateral military action against Iraq.

Addressing the General Assembly last week, Bush gave the United Nations an ultimatum. If it does not come up with a solution, the US will go ahead with an attack on Iraq.

But when it comes to war and peace, who really speaks for the United Nations?

The decision is made just by five permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council, namely the US, Britain, France, China and Russia.

In the unlikely event that the US and Britain succeed in pushing through a resolution, they will try to convince the world at large that they have the blessings of the "international community".But the real international community is the 190-member General Assembly which has virtually no political clout to pronounce its views either on war or peace. The founders of the United Nations made sure that real power in the world body is exercised only by five countries.

Although the UN charter presumes that all countries are created equal, there are some countries who are more equal than the others.

But neither Britain nor the US will ever go before the General Assembly to test the opinion of the international community on a war against Iraq. If they do, they will be overwhelmingly defeated.

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