Bush Commits to Second Resolution Vote
Editor's Note: Bush gave only the eighth formal news conference since taking office in 2001 on Thursday night. There was speculation beforehand that this might be the moment when a declaration of war against Iraq would be made. Some even thought Bush would be announcing the capture of Osama bin Laden. Neither came to pass. Instead, Bush ran through a familiar litany of accusations and threats directed at Saddam Hussein. There were two factors to note. The first was that Bush all but promised that America would go to war without a UN resolution approving such action. The second pertained to the nature of the press conference itself. The reporters clearly asked scripted questions. Bush himself referenced a list at his podium before calling on reporters, making it clear that he knew the order of the questions to come, the name of the questioners, and the questions themselves. "April, did you have a question or did I call on you cold?" said Bush to a reporter after referencing his notes.
At the end of the day, this press conference was designed to do one thing - to get rhetorically out in front of Hans Blix before he reports to the UN on Friday. Twice now the administration has waited for Blix to report, expecting from him a basis for war, and twice they have been burned. On Thursday, Bush attempted to set the terms of debate for this next report. - wrp
Bush Commits to Second Resolution Vote
Friday 7 March 2003
The US president, George Bush, said today that he would insist on a vote on a new resolution authorising war on Iraq, saying it was time for UN security council members to "show their cards".
Speaking at a televised White House news conference, Mr Bush committed to the vote for the first time, saying the US would seek it regardless of the prospects for success - which is in doubt because of opposition from council members Russia, France and China.
The US, Britain and Spain last month tabled a second resolution, which would effectively authorise war, which followed previous UN resolution 1441 which ordered Iraq to disarm. However, there had been doubt about the US pushing the new resolution to a vote amid fears it may not get passed or be vetoed by France, Russia or China.
However today Mr Bush said: "No matter what the whip count is [the tally of expected votes], we're calling for the vote ... we want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations security council. It's time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam."
However, he indicated the US would go it alone regardless. "When it comes to security, we certainly don't need anybody's permission," Mr Bush said.
He said President Saddam was engaged in a "willful charade" to deceive UN weapons inspectors and that the United States and its allies were involved in the "last phase of diplomacy". He said: "If he does not disarm, we will disarm him."
Mr Bush said President Saddam had made a "big show of destroying a few missiles", referring to Iraq's Samoud missiles, which the regime has destroyed around 10 of in recent days after the UN said they exceeded a banned range. But Mr Bush added "our intelligence indicates he has ordered the production of the very same missiles".
He accused Iraq of hiding materials for weapons of mass destruction. "These are not the actions of a regime that is disarming. These are the actions of a regime engaged in a willful charade. These are the actions of a regime that systematically and deliberately is defying the world," he said.
Mr Bush denied he was worried about failing to get UN support for military action and indicated the US would act without it.
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