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News ::
George W. Bush prepares his ultimatum (english)
14 Mar 2003
Realistic analysis in Le Figaro concerning the true nature of American intensions, and vis-a-vis the Azores rendez-vous.
The final decree will take the form of a televised discourse of the president of the United States, as in 1991

George W. Bush prepares his ultimatum

Washington: From our correspondant Jean-Jacques Mevel
[March 15, 2003]

Who will perform the coup de grace to a diplomacy at the point of breathing its last gasp? If it cannot receive the complicity of the Security Council, the White House will execute the task itself: George W. Bush is preparing to deliver his ultimatum to Iraq and give the signal to commence hostilities starting next week, save an improbable reprieve.

The final decree will take the form of a televised discourse of the American president, as in 1991, it is being said. George W. Bush will notify Saddam Hussein that he has missed his last chance to disarm. He will recall the failure of six months of dealing at the UN and will give to the inspectors no more than the choice to leave. Despite the reaffirmed opposition of France and possibly of Russia, the war will be no more than a matter of days.

The road which leads to the fateful hour is henceforth swept. Tomorrow, the American president will meet his two major European allies, the Briton Tony Blair and the Spaniard Jose Maria Aznar, for a crisis summit in the Azores. For the White House, it's a matter of "reaching a conclusion" at the United Nations. The formulation remains diplomatic, but the three men will not be able to hide themselves from the reality: the "ultimatum-resolution" which they have pushed for three weeks at the Security Council has practically no chance of being adopted., despite the variable geometry. Against it is found a double threat of a French and Russian veto, as well as a half-dozen undecideds. "The day of judgment is approaching," warns Colin Powell.

By the voice of his Secretary of State, George W. Bush has already made known that he will voluntarily dispense with a public vote where the power of American risks being found in a minority, if not in a position of accused. Since automn, Washington has repeated that it doesn't need a green light from the UN. Better, renouncing submission of the resolution would liberate the White House of tiresome dealings for the vote of Guinea, of Pakistan, or of Mexico. With regards to Saddam Hussein, the American president would immediately find his hands free.

The most recent reticense to the scenario "outside UN" comes from Tony Blair. This justifies the round-trip to the Azores. Washington fears that the weakness of international support for an American ultimatum would lead its faithful ally to reconsider its military participation in the attack against Iraq. It is a hypothesis that Donald Rumsfeld, the chief of the Pentagon, has openly envisaged before retreating under the triple pressure of Great-Britain, of Colin Powell, and of the White House.

Yesterday, George W. Bush involved himself with tightening the weak British mail, without at all ceding his own impatience. The spokesman for the president Ari Fleischer was giving guarantees about the pursuit of the discussion at the UN, in insisting on the delays: "The president will in the Azores Sunday morning, in the view of pursuing to the end that which remains of diplomacy." The option remains, as wished by London. But viewed from Washington, the horizon is manifestly limited.

In order to "cover" the chief of the British government in the face of government opinion and his majority in parliament, Washington causes to scintillate in extremis a perspective of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. George W. Bush had already announced it as a happy consequence of the elimination of Saddam Hussein. Yesterday, he was engaged a little bit more in favor of the "final regulation", hoped for 2005 by the Europeans, the Russians, and the UN.

In the mouth of the American president, it's not but a matter of virtual realities. The United States will not engage itself on a calender and objectives "shared by all the parties" unless under the condition that the Palestinians do away with Yasser Arafat, in choosing a chief of government invested with "real authority." George W. Bush also desires the end of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories, a principal recrimination of the Arabs. But he respects the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in connecting the time limit to an undefined "progress towards peace."

The American promises and the maneuvers of the last hour are intended to close the loose ranks at the eve of the offensive, rather than to revive a dying diplomacy. The fatality of war weighs heavily on the latest dealing at the UN. In Washington, it is the relative isolation of the United States and the succession of failed rendez-vous with the "allies" which gives rise to questions. The Democrat the best placed for the 2004 race for the White House, John Forbes Kerry supported the president in the automn. Today, he comes to the podium to denounce "the most inept diplomacy in the entire history of the United States."

At the doors of Iraq, all the signals confirm the imminence of the conflict. The Pentagon has just sent to the Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean its furtive B-2 bombers, iron lance of an air offensive on Bagdad. The Anglo-American troops, they, have received their amunition, their combat rations and are beginning to leave their encampments in order to position themselves all along the border.

Link to original French:

Translated by Martin S. White (NAICR)

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