Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

March 22nd, 2003

The French veto

This post can’t be classed as breaking news, but it’s an important subject from the perspective of how this war started. As pointed out here by Charles Dodgson the original French position was not a veto under any circumstances. The original position was that any resolution that automatically authorised war would be vetoed because the UN weapon inspectors had not given up on Iraq’s disarmament through inspections.

This statement was made on the 10th of March, and was reported fairly accurately by the BBC here. By the 12th however it was being spun by the British that France had threatened to veto under any circumstances. Unfortunately France did not act on this interpretation and issue a statement to clarify the position, a move that implicitly gave credibility to the British interpretation of their position. It wasn’t through lack of time either, the war started a week later on the 20th.

This lack of clarification is in my opinion the biggest mistake that the French made in handling the crisis. A statement to the effect that France will back a war, and commit troops to the effort, as and when the weapon inspectors declared that Iraq could not be disarmed peacefully would have turned the tables on the US/UK position. The public could easily have supported such a position, and the focus would have shifted back to whether inspections worked rather than the politics of France versus the US.

Comments are closed.

Copyright 2015 Colin Stewart

Email: colin at