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questions for discussion
by Boris Stremlin
25 September 2002 06:55 UTC
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We have had a very eventful couple of weeks, which have precipitated a
number of issues which should be of some interest to listmembers.  I list
them below in no particular order.

1) Although very slow in coming, there appears to be some Democratic
oppostion to Bush's war plans forming.  It is still highly probable that
the Democrats will support Bush, who will continue to push the war all the
way into the midterm elections in November.  What are the chances that
they will succeed in limiting the scope of the proposed resolution?  Will
it be possible for a Democrat who opposes the war as currently pursued to
lead the Democratic party (I am referring to Al Gore, who became the
champion of this position as of yesterday)?

2) What is the likelihood of US success in getting a favorable vote in the
Security Council?  THe conventional wisdom is that no permanent member
will veto a US-authored resolution.  However, it is possible that the
eventual resolution will be very vague in its wording, which will allow
the US to think that military action is authorized, while everyone else
(except Britain) will think that it is not.

3) Is the UN itself in danger as a global institution.  Kofi Annan says
that Bush's bluster about it becoming irrelevant (unless it conforms to US
wishes) is overstated, but the problem is not just its willingness to
enforce resolutions directed at Iraq.  The increasing US pressure for a
resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, and obvious impotence to
confront Israel's disregard for Security Council resolutions is seriously
eroding UN credibility.

4) Will US failure to rein in Sharon seriously undermine its war plans?
The US did manage to avoid vetoing yesterday's resolution calling for
Israeli withdrawal from Ramallah, but certainly the Arab countries which
pushed for the resolution (it passed 14-0, with the US abstaining) are
putting pressure on the Europeans.

5) Will there be long-term fallout from the tiff between the US and
Germany?  Some commentators suggest that Schroeder has lost credibility
not only with the US, but with other EU contries as well.  On the other
hand, Schroeder's electoral win now makes two in a row for European social
democrats, who prior to their victories in Sweden and Germany had had a
string of losses.  Does Schroeder's break with Bush over Iraq portent an
increasingly confident Germany which will assume a more
outspoken leadership within Europe and bring about the other European
countries (now ruled by conservatives who are more concilliatory toward
Washington), rather than the reverse?

6) Wallerstein has suggested that war against Iraq will be a protracted
one.  I think there may be something to this, but what are the concrete
reasons?  Does it have something to do with Saddam Hussein's defense
plans, which will greatly increase civilian casualties and make the US
more cautious?  Or is it because of the likelihood of the war spilling
over into other countries?

Boris Stremlin

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