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by C/O DIOGENES Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 3:58 AM

It looks like the Protests have forced Phony Tony into an advance to the rear. A million protesters might have had a little to do with it.

Brits Backing Out?

March 11, 2003

Sources tell CBS News that Great Britain – America's closest ally – may find it politically impossible to commit its military to a U.S.-led attack on Saddam Hussein. And that could force the United States to go it alone in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld hinted as much Tuesday.

"To the extent that they are able to participate that would obviously be welcomed. To the extent they are not, well, there are workarounds," Rumsfeld said.

War in Iraq is now supported by fewer than 20 percent of Britons, and Prime Minister Tony Blair has told Washington he needs U.N. authorization, reports CBS News Correspondent Bill Plante.

So Britain is now talking about a new amendment to the draft resolution in the Security Council that would extend the March 17 deadline by as much as another ten days and would include strictly defined disarmament benchmarks – something the U.S. has opposed in the past.

"The United Kingdom is in a negotiation and it's prepared to look at timelines and tests together," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said. "But I'm pretty sure we're talking about action in March, don't look beyond March."

The White House said it didn't object to the tests, but made it clear that the time is limited.

"What the president has said is that there is room for a little more diplomacy, but not a lot of time to do it. The vote will take place this week," said press secretary Ari Fleischer.

The Bush administration had talked of a vote as early as Tuesday, but with France and Russia threatening to veto the current draft resolution, and without the minimum nine "yes" votes, it held up action in the council.

Diplomats from six council nations considered swing votes – Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico and Pakistan – proposed Tuesday that Saddam be given 45 days to meet benchmarks and demonstrate that Iraq is disarming.

But that appeared out of the question for the United States and Britain.

"It's not going anywhere, there's only one resolution on the table," one U.S. official said.

Under the proposed British amendment, Saddam would have 10 days to prove Iraq has taken a "strategic decision" to disarm, which could be done with a series of tests or "benchmarks," council diplomats said.

If Iraq makes that decision, a second phase would begin with more time to verify Iraq's full disarmament, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Reacting to the possible British compromise, French diplomats said the resolution would still mean authorizing war, which France is unwilling to do. However, the French Foreign Ministry in Paris indicated it was open to new ideas.

"It's a new development and the future will tell us if it is a significant development," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau. "We've indicated we are open to dialogue."

Nonetheless, he stressed that the "red line" set out by France cannot be crossed: "We want no ultimatum. We want no element of automaticity. And we've said we want what the inspectors say taken into account."

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov was equally adamant.

"We see no reason whatsoever to interrupt the inspections and any resolution which contains ultimatums and which contains automaticity for the use of force is not acceptable to us," he said.

The U.S. has the support of Britain, Spain and Bulgaria, with Cameroon and Mexico reportedly leaning toward the U.S. position. But with Germany, Syria and Pakistan preparing abstentions or "no" votes, Washington is trying to appeal to Chile, Angola and Guinea.

While the diplomats debate a war with Iraq, the Pentagon pressed ahead with final preparations for waging war. On Tuesday, a new weapon was added to the mix: the biggest conventional bomb ever dropped from an airplane.

It is officially designated the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, although it has come to be called unofficially the Mother of All Bombs, a rough allusion to Saddam Hussein's claim before the 1991 Gulf War that that conflict would be the "mother of all battles."

The Pentagon's newest and biggest weapon had to be tested before it can be used in combat. And at 21,000 pounds it promised to cause such a massive detonation that residents around the Florida bombing range had to be warned in advance.

The speed with which the Pentagon released video of the test was clearly intended as a warning to the Iraqi military of what they might face if it comes to war, reports CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin.

"The goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious that there's an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight," Rumsfeld said.

U.S. officials say there are already secret surrender negotiations underway with the commanders of some Iraqi military units. Rumsfeld says that before the shooting starts all Iraqi units will be given one last chance to give up.

"They will receive instructions so that they can behave in a way that will be seen and understood as being non-threatening and they will not be considered combatants," Rumsfeld said.

What effect Tuesday's bomb test will have on the Iraqi will to fight remains to be seen, but the sight of a bomb so powerful that a parachute is needed to slow its descent and give the plane which dropped it time to get away from the blast can only demoralize Iraqi troops. It might also convince them to take shelter in the cities since the U.S. could never use a weapon that powerful anywhere near civilians.

In other developments:

Iraqi fighter jets threatened two American U-2 surveillance planes, forcing them to abort their mission and return to base, U.S. officials said. A Pentagon official said the decision to end the mission was made "in the interest of safety." Iraq said the U.N. had apologized for the incident and called a "technical mistake."

A spokesman for U.N. weapons inspectors says Iraq is destroying more of those banned Al Samoud Two missiles. No word on how many, though. Inspectors also visited a Baghdad factory that makes batteries and an aviation office in a northern city. Iraq, meanwhile, says any invaders would face death.

Americans are being urged to leave Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The State Department says it's due to "heightened tensions" and "increased security concerns." The military has planes stationed in both countries prepared to attack Iraq if President Bush authorizes military action.

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 25 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Stuff it Trolls Diogenes Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 3:59 AM
Simple Simple Simon Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 4:35 AM
Hate to pee on your parade but... MadMaxim Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 4:37 AM
Reprieve mymicz Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 5:08 AM
Headline Judge Notch Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 5:10 AM
latest strategy disorient Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 5:34 AM
Hey! MadMaxim Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 5:51 AM
I would think... Diogenes Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 6:07 AM
Maybe.. maybe not MadMaxim Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 6:12 AM
DAMMIT Pissed Off in Ohio Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 6:19 AM
err... Still Pissed Off in Ohio Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 6:26 AM
Define Nazi MadMax Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 6:40 AM
Oh I dunno, I'd say We've Come a Long Way Baby Pissed Off in Ohio Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 6:52 AM
Please explain MadMaxim Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 7:02 AM
As would be obvious to a child of 12 Diogenes Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 7:14 AM
Fuck You Pissed Off In Ohio Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 7:18 AM
Yep, keep 'm focused Di MadMaxim Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 7:53 AM
Well you're sure as hell not gonna be thinking for me. Pissed Off in Ohio Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 8:20 AM
Yep MadMaxim Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 8:58 AM
I would rather be poor(er) Pissed Off in Ohio Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 9:12 AM
British by British citizen Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 4:24 PM
Communist Manifesto? Sheepdog Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 4:39 PM
And of Course Circus Maximus Misrepresented my point Diogenes Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 5:07 PM
Something to think about. Diogenes Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003 at 5:33 PM

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