It has not taken long for the House of Representatives to flex its Democratic muscles.

Although a non-binding motion, it is still a telling defeat that the House voted in favour of a resolution condemning President George W Bush for his decision to send more US troops to Iraq.

But, perhaps, what is more significant is the fact that 17 members of the President’s own Republican party voted with the Democrats against Mr Bush.

The overwhelming 246 to 182 vote in favour of the resolution could well be the prelude to the Democrats launching more decisive steps to limit President Bush’s war policy (

It has undoubtedly delivered a bloody nose to a President who now looks to be scrambling for support on his own doorstep – something that was unthinkable for so long.

While the UK remains a staunch ally – Prime Minister Tony Blair’s loyalty to President Bush seemingly unwavering – the fight against the “axis of evil”, the war on terrorism, or whatever else you want to call it, is losing support.

Australia still has the stomach for a fight, or rather Prime Minister John Howard does, but others who lined up behind the US in the wake of 9/11 are no longer so vocal.

If those within the US itself are now telling their President “enough is enough”, then this particular bloody nose could well be the blow that signals the beginning of the end for the hawkish policy towards Iraq.

The success of the Chinese-led agreement that has persuaded the unpredictable regime in North Korea to scale down its nuclear programme shows how a different approach can work.

Less confrontational, more diplomatic in its detail, the deal has been criticised for the fact it delivers much-needed aid to the bankrupt North Korean economy.

Yet diplomacy has succeeded where threats, posturing and brute force was singularly failing to make any sort of progress – indeed, the bullying approach adopted by the US towards North Korea just served to wind up the already volitile Kim Jong-il.

Does this point the way towards a change of US policy?

Unlikely, simply because President Bush has backed himself and his administration so far into this particular corner that coming out again will be a major humiliation at a time when he is more interested in cementing a positive Presidential legacy.

What is clear is how difficult the President will find his remaining months in office with fewer friends willing to stand alongside him in what has become an increasingly personal crusade. 

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