by RAY FLEMING

THESE are dire days for Britain. The possibility of getting majority support for any UN resolution which, whatever its terms and wording, is designed to give authority to war is very small indeed. Perhaps a sufficient number of the swing states can be “persuaded” by the United States to join Spain and Bulgaria in what is now being cynically called “the coalition of the unwilling”, but it is unlikely. Even if, somehow, the necessary nine votes can be coralled, it is unthinkable that China, France, Germany and Russia would be among them. So is it thinkable that Britain should join the United States in military action when such powerful voices are raised against it? Wouldn't this be “unreasonable”, to use Mr Blair's favourite phrase about inconvenient voting in the Security Council? Yesterday's meeting of the Security Council was the most dramatic I can remember, not because of Dr Blix's low-key report, but on account of the way in which the French and Russian representatives in particular warned that a resolution authorising war would “not be allowed” and France proposed that a summit of world leaders should immediately be called at the UN to discuss how the international community should order its affairs better in the future. None of this will worry Washington in the short-term - President Bush will go his own way - but yesterday may in time be seen as a watershed in the history of the United Nations.

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