If you don’t yet see why the poker game at the U.N. is a sideshow please take note of what French President Chirac said Monday: "No matter what the circumstances, we will vote No." By saying this Chirac has emboldened Iraq and has made war more possible, as George Will says. I mention in passing that U.N. approval was already given in Resolution 1441 of last Fall (even Clinton has said this) and that is sufficient; no new resolution is needed. So there are only two reasons why Bush wants another resolution voted on (even if it fails). First, he thinks this will help Blair out politically. (The fact that he is in some political difficulty shows the inferiority of the Parliamentary system; there are too many and too powerful "passions and interests" placed on the Prime Minister that he either has to kow-tow to, or he can be removed in the middle of a crisis.) Second, Bush wants the French and the others to show their cards; and he wants this noted publicly for long range geo-political reasons, rather than the immediate issue of Iraq. Because this is the first serious international issue since the collapse of the USSR and since 9/11--the first since, in other words, America has become the dominant world power--the U.S. wants to see how the lesser powers (France, Russia, Germany) will begin to line up to try to "balance" American power. Note that the Chinese are out of this picture. They can afford to sit this one out; they have not yet given up on being a great power, as the Russians and the French have. Also note that the impression being given by the Russians that they are in an alliance with the French against America, will only drive the New Europe more into the American camp and this will make the work of the French and Germans in EU (and to dominate the EU) much more difficult, which should be fine by us.
There is a good chance that we will get the nine votes in the Security Council, and that will force a French veto. And there is still a remote chance that the French will not veto. Either way, even with the possible delay of a few days as is being discuissed today, Iraq will be under a new regime by the end the month.