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Tuesday, October 29, 2002

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Expect Bush to keep stalling at the United Nations for another week.

I think it's politically advantageous for the Administration to drag out the U.N. debate until just after the November elections. As long as the situation remains in flux, no voter constituencies are being alienated.

Consider: If the U.N. successfully passes a compromise resolution, conservative hawks will scream that Bush and Powell have gone soft and are letting Saddam off the hook. Especially since France will try to spin the resolution as a diplomatic triumph which at least temporarily blocks U.S. military action (that's the excuse France would give for not vetoing it).

On the other hand, if a resolution acceptable to the Administration fails to pass and Bush washes his hands of the United Nations, the anti-war contingent will howl that the U.S. is defying international law and acting unilaterally. In fact a lot of liberals will be far more upset by Bush's denigration of the U.N. than they are by the prospect of war with Iraq.

But for moment neither side can be confident of the outcome, or know whether Bush will pull off another stunning diplomatic coup. Nor does either side want to be blamed for upsetting delicate negotiations and precipitating an undesirable result. So their voices are relatively muted, while the Administration continues to expound on the danger posed by Iraq. Thus Bush can keep voters' attention focussed on this issue without giving his opponents an opening to rally against it.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, the political need for caution evaporates on November 6th. Close proximity to Saddam Hussein after next Tuesday could result in a dramatically lower life expectancy.








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