September 13, 2002

SCORE ONE FOR ROPE-A-DOPE:

President George W. Bush yesterday proved himself a master of the art of turning the tables on his critics, by choosing to make his case for an urgent showdown with Iraq in terms of the very diplomatic multilateralism they hold so dear.

In doing so, he delivered a speech to the United Nations General Assembly that was, by some way, the most powerful indictment of Saddam Hussein that has been heard from the administration since the drumbeat towards war began six months ago.

It not only offered a strong rationale for coercive measures against Iraq. It also presented, for the first time, a possible framework for diplomatic and, if necessary, military action that could broaden the support for regime change in Baghdad beyond the current narrow coalition of the US and the UK.

Above all, the speech cleverly emphasised that what is at stake is the post-1945 international system itself. The challenge to that system comes not from the administration in Washington, but from Iraq.

Glad to see someone’s finally paying attention.

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