Conflicting Goals for the U.N. Resolution
(written on 10/19/2002)
On Thursday, October 10th, the United States Congress voted on a resolution that would authorize President Bush to use military force against Iraq. The House of Representatives vote was 296 to 133, in support of the president. The Senate voted several hours later, approving the resolution, 296 to 133. The Republicans were firm supporters of the president; in the Senate, only one republican voted against the resolution. In the House, the majority of Democrats opposed the president. However, more Senate Democrats approved the resolution than not.
One of the major goals of this vote was to put pressure on the United Nations to pass a resolution calling for the disarmament of Saddam Hussein. Up until Thursday, October 18, when the Bush administration unexpectedly agreed to compromise, the five veto-bearing members of the 15-member Security Council-- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China-- were deadlocked over the resolution.
The United States and Britain were pushing for a single resolution that authorizes both weapons inspections and, if the inspections are hindered, military force. France, supported by Russia, wanted two resolutions. The first would authorize tough U.N. inspections. The second resolution, which would be voted on by the Council only if Iraq fails to comply with the first, would authorize military intervention. France was concerned not only about Iraq, but also about America's attempt to gain the right to preemptive military force. As Paul Sanders, director of the Nixon Center, explained, France is worried that the U.S. will become "a superpower that can take military action anywhere it wants without restraint".
On Wednesday, October 16th, an open debate was held, allowing non-UN nations to voice their opinions for the resolution. Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed the need for the Security Council to be...