- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2003

The Bush administration, which just days ago was hinting of a come-from-behind victory on the U.N. Security Council, now appears increasingly resigned to the failure of a second resolution against Iraq.
And it has begun to call into question the morality of the United Nations itself.
The White House is pleased it chose to seek a first resolution, which the Security Council passed 15-0 in November, but appears to be regretting the decision to seek a second resolution.
As recently as one week ago, President Bush was countering questions about international opposition to America's war plans by pointing out that similar opposition evaporated when the Security Council finally voted on last year's resolution.
"How come you can't get anybody to support your resolution?" Mr. Bush recalled the naysayers asserting. "If I remember correctly, there was a lot of doubt as to whether or not we were even going to get any votes.
"And the vote came out 15 to nothing," he added. "And I think you'll see when it's all said and done, if we have to use force, a lot of nations will be with us."
But that optimism appears to have vanished amid increasing evidence that the new resolution will either fail to garner the nine votes required for passage, or be vetoed by France or Russia.
The White House is now trying to pre-empt the political fallout of such an outcome by questioning the morality and relevance of the United Nations in unusually aggressive terms.
On Monday, for example, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer questioned the morality of the United Nations if it failed to pass the new resolution. On Tuesday, he lambasted the world body for failing to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and Rwanda and implied that it will be guilty of similar negligence if it fails to pass the new resolution on Iraq.
"There is a large sense in the country that the United Nations Security Council is not the first institution to be looked to to maintain peace, given the way that they did not do it in Rwanda, did not do it in Kosovo," said Mr. Fleischer. "And we'll see if they're able to enforce the resolutions here with Iraq in disarmament."
Yesterday, as Mr. Bush worked the phones for the third consecutive day, the prospects for a successful resolution seemed even dimmer.
"If nations are not with us, he will be disappointed," said Mr. Fleischer. "I do not want to offer any guesses about the final outcome."
The administration's gloomy assessment of the resolution's prospects raises questions about whether the president miscalculated by attempting the measure in the first place.
Mr. Bush first decided to seek the blessing of the United Nations last summer, when Democrats and even some Republicans accused him of failing to make the case against Saddam Hussein. Although some conservatives warned that Mr. Bush risked getting caught in an "inspections trap," the president went to the United Nations and implored its members to take a stand against Saddam.
There were serious doubts about whether the Security Council would pass that first resolution.
Right up until the vote on Nov. 8, it seemed likely that the measure would be opposed by at least some Security Council members, especially Syria.
But even Syria ended up voting for the resolution, which promised "serious consequences" if Saddam did not disarm. Heartened by this victory, the administration insisted for months that a second resolution was not necessary to launch a military strike.
But the president decided last month to pursue a second resolution, in part to provide political cover to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is facing fierce domestic opposition for supporting Mr. Bush. While initially expressing hope that the second resolution would somehow prove as successful as the first, the administration is now sounding much more pessimistic.
This week, for the first time, the White House warned that if the United Nations fails to pass the second resolution against Iraq, it will embolden North Korea to continue flouting international law.
"If the United Nations shows North Korea that it passes resolutions that it has no meaning to enforce, that there's no strength behind, then North Korea will say it does not matter what the United Nations does," said Mr. Fleischer. "So that's why the president would like to see a successful vote in the Security Council on the situation with Iraq."
But he added: "The president has himself said that if nations vote against him he will, of course, be disappointed."

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