Josh Marshall also points out that, however critical the Bush administration may be of the vague language of UNSC Resolution 1441, the US ultimately endorsed it.
The Council was willing to sign on to demanding compliance but only if it was in charge of deciding what constituted compliance and non-compliance.
Basically, they were only willing to do it if they got another bite at the apple and got an opportunity to interpret their own words. It wasn't going to be up to DC regime-change scribes to decide what was a 'material breach'. It was going to be up to France, Russia et.al.
Maybe that's lame. But that's what they signed on to. If they 'lacked will,' they made it pretty clear up front.
The problem for the United States is that we pretty clearly went on the record validating this other interpretation. Here's what America's UN Representative John Negroponte said at the UN on the day the resolution passed ...
There's no 'automaticity' and this is a two-stage process, and in that regard we have met the principal concerns that have been expressed for the resolution. Whatever violation there is, or is judged to exist, will be dealt with in the council, and the council will have an opportunity to consider the matter before any other action is taken.
What he was saying there was that 1441 was not self-enforcing. Its language and what counted as an infraction was to be decided by the Security Council. This was the price we paid for getting for getting the unanimous vote.
...But pretty much immediately they decided that they'd paid far too high a price to get their resolution and tried to wriggle out of it.
...What this means pretty clearly is that we cannot claim that Resolution 1441 gives us any basis for doing what we're about to do.
This analogy is also important to remember with regard to the sunset clause on Bush's tax cuts: It was a concession that, however much Bush may have disliked it, he needed to make in order to secure their passage. He may complain that not subsequently making the cuts permanent--that is, allowing them to expire as they're slated to do--is "raising taxes," but even if that were true (and it isn't), it's a "tax increase" Bush himself signed.