While this was being organized and unfolding, Bush was dragged kicking and screaming to the UN on September 12th. This happened through the efforts of a number of countries including Canada and the UK. He appeared at the UN because there was virtually no support for U.S. actions against Iraq and Bush felt that the U.S. could beat the UN into submission. The timing worked out for Iraq who had agreed to come to New York for September 14th and, through a series of negotiations in New York that I was involved in, made its proposal to the UN through Kofi Annan on September 16th, 2002. The proposal allowed for a return of weapons inspectors to Iraq with no conditions attached. The negotiations were finalized in November 2002 and that way was paved for Hans Blix to return to Iraq after 4 years without inspections.
The return of the inspectors neutralized the U.S. demand that Iraq disarm. However, it soon became apparent that the U.S. was not interested in a disarmed Iraq, but rather wanted control of the country for several reasons, not least of which was Iraqi oil and the fact that in their war on terrorism they had not been able to find Osama bin Laden. The U.S. then moved to the language of “regime change” and the world began to respond to their actions, culminating in the mass rallies held worldwide on February 15th, 2003. Tens of millions of people protested the U.S. position including 1.5 million people in London, who opposed Tony Blair’s pro-U.S. stance and 1 million people in Rome, who opposed their government’s support for the U.S. Spain saw hundreds of thousands of people in Madrid and Barcelona protesting the Spanish government’s support of Bush. As a result, the U.S. changed its rhetoric from “regime change” to “liberation of the Iraqi people and a change in human rights”.