It’s been a busy few days in the Iraq debate. Let’s summarize — no, is not enough! Let’s predict!
Turkey declined the opportunity to help out with the war over the weekend, but now the Turkish military is pushing for a revote. Remember, in Turkey, the military is a political force unto itself. Now, there’s no chance that Abdullah Gul, the current Prime Minister, is going to call that vote this week. Gul has no leverage to push for a revote; he’s a lame duck. There’s a by-election coming on Sunday, in which Recep Tayyip Erdogan will undoubtedly gain a parliamentary seat. As leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party, he’ll be elected Prime Minister immediately. (Up until quite recently, he was banned from running for Parliament, largely because of — wait for it — the Turkish military. Now you know why the government has been in favor of aiding the US; the JDP needs to keep on the military’s good side.)
The US has not shifted troop ships away from Turkey and towards Kuwait as of this writing, which tells you that someone expects there’s still a chance Turkey will change its mind.
Is pushing for a revote undemocratic? It depends. The Turkish Constitution says you can’t allow foreign troops to be based on Turkish soil for a war unless there’s international consensus behind that war. Right now, this means UN approval, like it or not. If a new resolution authorizing war is passed, then the situation has changed and another vote is reasonable. If that happens there’s no doubt that Turkey will OK the northern front. If the situation doesn’t change, there’s no grounds for another vote and we may see another Turkish military coup yet.
Meanwhile, Capitol Hill Blue reports that Colin Powell wants an exit strategy. If the US brings a new resolution to the floor and loses the vote, it’s bad. It means we don’t get a northern front, and it means that Blair’s government very likely falls if the invasion still takes place.
A side note on that last, since there’s some confusion on the topic. A significant portion of Blair’s own party just voted against him despite being told in the strongest possible terms that they should vote yes. Labor Party MPs were afraid that their local parties will de-select them — the rough equivalent of being kicked out of (say) the local Democratic Party — if they voted for the war. Blair did not weather the worst of the storm. He got a warning of very bad weather ahead. He needs UN authorization just as badly as the Turkish government.
Is it any wonder that the US is feeling the utmost urgency regarding the second resolution? Despite the hordes of warmongers (including Bush) who claim that this is really just a chance for the UN to decide whether or not it’s relevant, the second resolution is make or break for the war. The UN has already demonstrated that it’s relevant. There should be no doubt of that after the Turkish vote and the Labor Party revolt. Which, I note tangentially, is pretty interesting. Since when do citizens and politicians care so much about an extranational organization? Since now, I guess.
Another parenthetical: a 9 member majority vote for the resolution is more important than an unvetoed resolution. If the resolution is passed but vetoed, then it can be spun as a success even though three of the permanent members of the Security Council are against it. I would in fact agree with that stance — in the same way as I object to the repeated US vetos of resolutions concerning Israel. Mind you, the results of such a stance would weaken the US’s ability to effectively veto anti-Israeli resolutions, but that’s a smaller problem right now.
So, we’re seeing a lot of propaganda and politics on both sides. France, Russia, and Germany are hanging tough. Meanwhile, the US and England are predicting success. Nothing you wouldn’t expect on either front. The real news this morning is the UN plan to reconstruct Iraq, first revealed by the London Times. The US role in that plan is discussed by the Financial Times (link may expire, read quick!).
Read that as Bush admitting that he needs the UN: it’s a concession. I’m glad he’s making it and I’m not surprised that he was forced to make it. The next week or so will tell us if it’s sufficient. Blix will be reporting again on Friday, and it’s unlikely to be a favorable moment for the pro-war countries, but you won’t see any decisions before then in any case.
And that, my friends, is realpolitik.