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July 21, 2004
UN Proves Useless In Iraq -- Again

The Los Angeles Times offers an analysis of the UN's ongoing non-efforts to support the nascent democracy in Iraq. After loudly demanding an end to the CPA occupation of the country and pressing for elections at the earliest possible moment, the United Nations has not done much about getting member states to assist with electoral security:

When the U.N. Security Council voted six weeks ago to authorize a protective force, it expected contributors to step forward. But countries have balked at taking part in a force expected to include 1,000 troops and several dozen bodyguards. Diplomats said many nations were hesitating because of the dangers including a wave of kidnappings and costs as well as the continuing unpopularity of the U.S. invasion. ...

The U.S. considers a U.N. mission in Iraq an important step toward making the reconstruction a more international effort. But U.N. officials, still traumatized by the bombing of their organization's Baghdad headquarters in August, said they couldn't remain in Iraq for long unless they had protection for their personnel and their facilities.

If other countries are unable to provide the troops, the job will fall to the U.S.-led coalition now patrolling the country. That outcome would be embarrassing for the Bush administration, which has been struggling all year to show it has international support for rebuilding Iraq.

Some diplomats feared that protection by U.S. troops would make U.N. officials more likely to be attacked by insurgents. U.S. officials contended that insurgents would attack anyone including U.N. officials protected by foreign troops involved in reconstruction efforts.

Paul Richter does his best to keep laying the blame for member-states' reluctance on the Bush administration's decision to bypass the UN when it went to war in Iraq. However, the US and UK have since quickly complied with UN demands in structuring the occupation and the transfer of sovereignty, and the UNSC unanimously accepted the resolution establishing the transfer of power on mostly UN terms. The UN has stubbornly or lazily (depending on your point of view) refused to do anything to help out, even after their demands were met.

In truth, the UN realizes that it has no will to defend its own mission in Iraq, let alone take any offensive action in defending the Iraqis as they struggle to build their electoral infrastructure. While Richter would like Times readers to draw the conclusion that Bushs intransigence is to blame, instead the article provides a microcosm of the entire UNSC-Iraq quagmire since 1991 and the status of the UN as an organization. The UN only has the will to pass resolutions: resolutions for disarmament, resulotions for inspections, resolutions demanding compliance with other resolutions, resolutions demanding transfers of sovereignty, and so on. They lack any will whatsoever to lift a finger to transform their resolutions into reality. Passing resolutions costs little money and no immediate risk, whereas action ... well, that can get messy.

So now we see in Darfur the same situation the UN faced in Rwanda, and what does the UN do? Debate about using the word 'genocide' while thousands of people die in the Sudan. The UN demands Iraqi sovereignty and free elections, and what do they do when it comes time to provide security for both? Shrug their shoulders and ignore it. Why this should come as a surprise to anyone who watched the UNSC issue resolution after resolution (sixteen times over) to Saddam Hussein, and then act offended when the nations bearing the military cost of enforcing the status quo demanded action, is completely beyond my comprehension.

The only argument for the UN is as a world-class debating society and a good place to stuff Peter-Principle diplomats, where little harm can come from their folly.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 21, 2004 12:15 PM

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