How Bush Avoided UN Accountability

More on the origins of Resolution 1441's ambiguity (Mary Dejevsky in The Independent, 3/21/03):

The White House was divided over the wisdom of seeking international support for this venture, but by August 2002 Mr Bush had decided to take the United Nations route on Iraq. The one remaining question was whether he should call formally for a UN resolution that authorised the eventual use of force -- and then whether there should be just one resolution or two. Only 24 hours before Mr Bush addressed the UN General Assembly, British officials were confident that their argument -- for a single UN resolution -- had prevailed.

Mr Bush makes his decisions, apparently, rather like a diner contemplating a sushi restaurant conveyor belt. He watches as the options are paraded before him, then grabs one that matches his view, and another, and perhaps another, even if they are not necessarily compatible. The 28th draft of his speech was what Mr Bush delivered at the UN on 12 September 2002. The crucial sentence relating to the resolution, though, was missing from his autocue. Knowing it should be there, he improvised, with one crucial error. He called for "UN resolutions", in the plural.

What seemed a tiny distinction took on huge importance in talks over the resolution that became 1441. France and Russia insisted on two resolutions -- one to get weapons inspectors into Iraq; the second to authorise military action, if necessary. That same dispute, essentially, is what finally scuppered UN diplomacy.