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The U.N. debate on Iraq is getting very, very complicated. The U.S. and its allies are hardened into one position. The French and the Germans have hardened into the opposite position, and whipsawed in the middle — a bunch of countries usually out of the loop altogether: Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico and Chile.
Now the swing votes are starting to feel the bruises of being pressured by the U.S. on one side and the French on the other. The swing vote countries are saying, "Hey, you guys do some compromising. We can't take the heat."
It's tough being one of the big guys on the block. You have to make some tough decisions, and you can't decide to back off just because it's uncomfortable. The U.S. has known this for years and now Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico and Chile are learning it too.
So what are they going to do? It's going to be easy if Saddam Hussein defies inspectors and less easy if he does his usual bob and weave, giving a little, not giving all.
That's where it's going to be a really difficult decision. The U.S. knows what it wants to do about this continued divisive deception, and so does the U.K.
But ultimately, the legitimacy of the U.S. is going to be up to the occasional members of the Security Council — not France, Germany, China and Russia — but Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico and Chile.
These countries have to look at the lay of the land. First, they say they want Hussein disarmed. That's good, now let's see them follow through. Second, they have a choice: side with France or side with the U.S.
History tells these swing voters where they should side. Let's see if they can figure it out.
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