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Battle in the U.N.

Battle in the U.N.Bush’s next hurdle to disarming Iraq is attaining U.N. support – a task which, according to Tufts experts, is a high-stakes conflict on its own. Medford/Somerville, Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.10.03] The Bush administration spent last weekend lobbying the United Nations on the urgency of disarming Iraq - with seemingly little luck. Key nations such as France remain staunchly opposed to military action, while Russia recently announced its opposition to the proposed March 17 deadline for Iraqi compliance. And, according to experts from Tufts, the political struggle amongst the U.N.'s 15 Security Council members is just warming up.

"It's negotiation," Jeswald Salacuse - professor of international relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts - told the Boston Herald. "Whether you're negotiating over a used car or over a decision about going to war, some - not all - of the processes are the same, unfortunately. This March 17 deadline [they're] talking about may be kind of a first offer to see what the other side will respond to. You say to the French and the others [opposed to war], ‘OK, you want more time? How much more time?'"

But more time may not be what some countries are looking for. According to Tufts' Andrew Hess, nations with vested economic interests in the Persian Gulf have high stakes in what happens in the region.

In an interview with CNN, Hess - a professor of diplomacy at Tufts' Fletcher School - said that France has monetary reasons to prevent a war in Iraq.

"I think the position of France has a lot to do with what may happen in the future, in this region of the world, in terms of its ability to profit from the oil business there," Hess told CNN.

France's position, combined with reluctance among other U.N. council members to engage Iraq in war, may mean that if the United States wants Iraq disarmed, it may have to do it alone. War without international support, according to Tufts expert Hurst Hannum, could be a risky endeavor.

"It represents a colossal diplomatic failure," Hannum - professor of international law at Tufts' Fletcher School - told Cox News. "The Bush administration doesn't seem obliged to take anyone else's opinion into account."

As to the question of whether the Bush administration will act without U.N. approval, Hannum told the Herald that the answer may rely on the allied support of Britain.

"I frankly think the only thing that will stop the war is if the British government withdraws its support or insists on [giving Iraq] more time," Hannum told the Herald. "I think it comes down to the British."

With or without British support, however, Tufts' Salacuse says that a U.S. war without U.N. backing will not be without consequences.

"This is one of the most crucial decisions a country can make and it needs to get popular support," Salacuse told the Herald. "If the Bush administration wants to go to war, it has the power to do it and it will go ahead and do it. But that [will be] part of the process of [international] alienation."

He added, "there's going to come a time when we need these [countries' support in other areas]."

Tufts' Hannum agrees that disregarding U.N. approval means treading in dangerous waters.

"We're going back to the law of the jungle," Hannum told the Herald. "It very much sets a precedent for other countries [to ignore the U.N. under the auspices of self-defense]. You don't have to look around the world very far to see countries threatened by their neighbors."


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