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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Veto, Schmeto - You're Either On The Bus Or Off The Bus

Bold Predictions - the US will demand a vote on the US resolution on Iraq next week. It will not be vetoed. If it is, the US will ignore the veto. And, a headline flickered by saying Blair would ignore it too, so I am looking less bold, and more like CW each moment. In fact, I see that "Until now, Blair has said he reserved the right to go to war without U.N. authorization in case a singular "unreasonable veto" was wielded, so this is yesterday's news.

Reasons: the US will demand a vote because it will line up nine votes for passage (the magic 2/3). The US, Britain, Spain, and Bulgaria are committed and enough of the smaller countries will decide that it is better to be on the bus than off the bus. If the US is going to do this anyway, why annoy us by standing in our way?

Now, will there be a veto by France, Russia, or China? No. No one wants to be a hero and cast the sole veto. However, the voting procedure in the Security Council seems to be by show of placards unless someone requests a roll call vote, in which case votes are cast in (English) alphabetical order.

France and Russia may have mutually promised to veto, but where is the trust? The Prisoners Dilemma arises as, by roll call, France votes first. Veto, and Russia can ingratiate itself with the US by abstaining, knowing that the measure has failed. But if France does not veto, Russia will decline to veto alone. So, both abstain.

And we don't care. Why not? Because Americans understand democracy, "get" majority rule, don't like the French, and distrust veto power unless it is ours. If Bush appears on national television and says that the US sponsored resolution received two thirds of the Security Council votes but failed because of sneaky French and puzzling Russian objections, We the People will be placated. Fine, the anti-war folks won't be, but that would be true anyway. Bush has said he would lead a "coalition of the willing" many times, but now the NY Times adds this:

A nine-vote majority, even with vetoes by France or Russia, American officials believe, might still carry some moral authority in a trembling world.

It was said back in the Haight-Asbury days by one of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, but the wisdom is timeless and true for UN delegates today:

"It's great to be part of the greatest jack-off in history".

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