George Does The Azores
For all we know, Bush, Blair and Aznar were just playing blackjack backstage, aides dabbing them with their TV makeup, while the press waited for them at the huge NATO base in the Azores.
There was nothing to summit about. Before Bush left Washington for the windswept Portuguese islands, it was already clear that Tony Blair was not going to get his second UN resolution. Not even one silly text approved by a handful of frightened, smallish countries and vetoed by, thankfully, France (always a boon for a Brit politician).
Tony Blair's wilting influence can be measured by reading the "Azores Summit Statement," so quintessentially American in syntax and sentiment that it couldn't have been penned anywhere else. The feel-good, fairy-tale press release confirms that make-believe has been America's greatest contribution to world civilization, as Jean Baudrillard suggested.
Wrapped in "allied" legitimacy and Azores summitry, Bush gave the UN Security Council a 24-hour ultimatum. Do as I say or I go to war without you, leaving you in the junk pile of history.
Hell will freeze over before the Security Council heeds a Bush ultimatum, as Colin Powell must have told his boss. So, the ultimatum was no ultimatum, just as the summit was no summit. It was rhetorical posturing to signal that the U.S. and its two hapless cohorts are pulling out of the Security Council. Not just pulling out their second resolution, but removing themselves into the greener pastures of American unilateralism.
But still, why the rush to the Azores on a Sunday afternoon? To pre-empt, and maybe prevent, Hans Blix' report to the Security Council on Monday, setting a tough, quick and inconveniently peaceful disarmament calendar for Iraq: the report could have considerably weakened public support for the rush-to-war camp in the U.S., and Britain.
Creating a news event to steal your enemy's news-making thunder is the sine qua non of successful political campaigns. Since mid-February, Jacques Chirac and his photogenic Foreign Affairs Minister, Dominique de Villepin, have been making mincemeat, worldwide, of whatever tatters remain of U.S. diplomacy. They, and not Karl Rove, were writing the script. The Azores photo event had Rove's fingerprints all over.
Having posed with his two "allies" and declared his heart's desire, Bush can now get back to the more serious (think 2004 re-election) business of letting the American people know on Monday night's TV op that 250,000 of their compatriots are about to invade Iraq.