But on the question of deadlines, Powell comes up short. Only three of the 15 members support a specific deadline (the United States has already given up; Britain and Bulgaria want a decision by Feb. 14), and only two more favor an imminent deadline in principle, on the grounds that further inspections are pointless unless Iraq changes its attitude. That leaves the United States six votes shy of the nine needed to authorize war now and four votes shy of the nine needed to impose an imminent deadline. Three members seem to be out of play since they describe inspections as a permanent solution, making war impossible. That leaves the United States with only seven countries from whom to get the six remaining votes for immediate war now or the four remaining votes for an imminent deadline. In addition, one permanent member, France, is among the countries calling for permanent inspections, raising the possibility that it might veto a resolution to end them.
So here's the score on Powell's presentation. He has trapped Iraq in an inspection regime until it comes clean, and he has put the United States within striking distance of the votes needed to declare that the status quo justifies war. But if he wants those votes, he'll have to wait.