Cultural Revolutions

Hard Bargaining

A U.N. resolution concerning weapons inspections in Iraq made October a month for hard bargaining among Washington, Paris, and Moscow.  Washington and London both desired a resolution that would allow the automatic application of force should Iraq obstruct any proposed arms inspections.  Paris and Moscow balked, but by mid-October it appeared that both the French and Russians were prepared to accept a U.S. proposal allowing for further Security Council consultations before any attack on Baghdad could be launched.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov explicitly stated that Moscow might agree to the use of force against Iraq if Baghdad interfered with arms inspections.  Thus, the United States appeared to be offering a face-saving option for the Security Council, one that brought the United Nations into the Iraq equation (after President Bush had already signed Congress’s resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, an implicit threat to act unilaterally if the Security Council would not compromise).

But the real story of the Iraq resolution bargaining probably had less to do with the Security Council’s view of the position and status of the United Nations than it did with the economic interests of France and Russia, both of which have staked a claim in developing Iraq’s oil fields—and both of which were very concerned that U.S.-based companies would drive them out in the event...

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