U.S. hopes for new U.N. resolution

United Nations Sept. 21. Several dozen heads of state and government are expected to attend the 58th General Assembly debate as it formally gets under way here next Tuesday. And with comes different themes even if the U.S. President, George W. Bush, is expected to harp on Iraq and the ongoing war against terrorism, with or without the so-called linkages.

Iraq will be one of the major themes without a doubt and not just from an American perspective. The rest of the world — Europe, West Asia and the Asia Pacific especially — sees the problem in much different perspectives and much to the annoyance of Washington.

Last year Mr. Bush came to New York basically to tell the world body that it was on the verge of being forced into irrelevance if it could not enforce the Security Council resolutions on Iraq. Washington, in a matter of months, parted company with the U.N. on Iraq, went to war. But what was supposed to have been achieved militarily was certainly not "won" in the post-conflict phase.

Now bogged down in a quagmire — conservatives and hawks in this Republican administration will not subscribe to this view — with daily loss of American lives and a reconstruction tab much above all expectations, the Bush administration is returning to New York. In many ways by coming back to the U.N. for a different mandate, Mr. Bush has actually acknowledged that the world body is very much relevant, several political analysts and diplomats are saying.

Once again Washington is being reminded that the Iraq resolution it is seeking is not going to be easy by any stretch of imagination. And for this to materialise, the process will have to be a two-way street. Belatedly, there is the realisation in some official corridors of Washington of this reality. Still the lurking fears of the political implications of being embarrassed for giving up political power in Baghdad is very much in the minds of this Bush White House. Whether or not it wants to admit this is a different matter.There is a difference in which other major players — the veto-holding nations in the Security Council particularly — are going about this new Iraq resolution. If in February and early March this year, some saw in the actions of France and Germany to oppose staunchly an American imposition on the Council, this time around there is a willingness to bail the Americans out of a big mess. Still France, Germany and Russia have told Washington that it must listen to the alternatives that are being proposed.

One perception here is that beyond what Mr. Bush may have to say in his address this Tuesday, his meetings on the sidelines with leaders of France and Germany are going to be critical; and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, will be in Camp David towards the later part of the week. These meetings aside Mr. Bush is also scheduled to meet the Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan, the two countries that Washington would very much want to be involved in Iraq.

The initial expectation was that the new Security Council resolution on Iraq would be "ready" by the time Mr. Bush landed in New York. No one believes this is going to come about, and even Mr. Bush has publicly conceded that much. Now the talk of something materialising during the week of September 29 but this would depend on how genuine the discussions have been this week.

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