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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Should Put U.S. Resolution to UN Vote

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Nearly six weeks have passed since U.S. President George W. Bush challenged the United Nations to act to enforce its resolutions on Iraq. Yet there has been no action. Instead, in its attempt to build support in the UN Security Council, the Bush administration has made a series of significant concessions.

In effect, Bush has risked the indefinite delay or evisceration of his campaign to eliminate the Iraqi threat in order to build a broad international coalition and preserve the authority of the UN.

We believe the risk was worth taking. Yet the U.S. resolution is being resisted, still, by France and Russia, two permanent Security Council members that appear determined to block or fatally weaken any U.S.-led initiative. It is time to call their bluff and ask the Security Council to vote.

The Franco-Russian obstructionism cannot be understood as a response to the Bush administration's hawkishness on Iraq, its doctrine of preemption or its drift toward unilateralism. Paris and Moscow have been championing the cause of Saddam in the Security Council since long before Bush's election. The two governments now portray themselves as advocates of Iraqi disarmament and UN inspections; but for much of the 1990s their explicit aim was to weaken or abolish UN inspections and remove all UN sanctions on Iraq, positions that helped their businessmen to win lucrative new contracts and their governments to harvest popular acclaim in the Arab world, at the expense of the United States.

Presidents Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin are still playing the same cynical game, only now they would strike a pose as the only restraint on the aggressiveness of the United States, and as champions of the rule of international law. Never mind that both countries have never hesitated to dispatch their forces for foreign interventions where their interests were threatened, with or without UN approval.

France and Russia aspire to use their places on the Security Council, granted a half-century ago, to wield influence they otherwise would not have at the opening of the 21st century. Yet now they risk destroying the very institution that serves them, along with any hope that the UN will play a meaningful role in a war on terrorism likely to dominate global affairs for years to come.

They already have succeeded in slowing and tempering the Bush administration's campaign on Iraq; now they must decide whether they are ultimately to stand with the United States or Saddam. The Bush administration should put its resolution to a vote. If it fails, it should be clear that responsibility for the failure of multilateralism lies not with the hawks of Washington but with the naysayers of Paris and Moscow.

This comment appeared as an editorial in The Washington Post.