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Friday, September 20, 2002

# Posted 4:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

REPORT CARD -- DIPLOMACY 101: If the United States wants to secure Security Council support for its effort to disarm Iraq -- by force if necessary -- it has to present the Council with a unified front. Yet as Ryan Lizza documents in The New Republic, Donald Rumsfeld has once again begun to contradict Colin Powell in public. The time has come for Bush to set a firm course for American policy then order his subordinates to implement it without hesitation.

Instead, Bush has focused his efforts on battering Congress into submission. Rather than sending Congress a precisely-worded request for the authority to invade Iraq in the event that it refuses to disarm, Bush has submitted a draft resolution that gives him unlimited authority to deal with threats in the Middle East by any means necessary. Even if one fully agrees with Bush's definition of the threat from Iraq, one ought to recognize that provoking a split with Congress is counterproductive if, at the same time, the administration wants to demonstrate its resolve before the United Nations.

This is not to say that the Democratic Party has sought to establish a bipartisan front. As E.J. Dionne argues in the WashPost, Democrats have levelled the unreasonable charge that Bush is provoking a conflict with Saddam in order to improve his party's chances in November. Nonetheless, both the administration and congressional Republicans have taken advantage of their legitimate position on Iraq to hurt the Democrats on the homefront. This is not the way to establish a unified front which will show the world that the US means business when it comes to fighting terrorism.
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