The U.N.'s "Vital Role"


Prez Bush declares that the United Nations will have a "vital role" in post-Saddam Iraq. Writes The WashPost:

HILLSBOROUGH, Northern Ireland, April 8—President Bush agreed today with British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the United Nations should have a "vital role to play" in postwar Iraq.


"When we say vital role, that's precisely what we mean," Bush said at a joint news conference at the end of two days of meetings with Blair. The United Nations, he said, "will be involved, along with the [U.S.-British military] coalition, in helping to set up an interim authority. But the Iraqi people are responsible for who's on that authority."

This should be very interesting to watch. Like most political spectacles, it should have the benefit of leaving everyone feeling cheated, from dovish U.N. sycophants to hawkish U.N.-bashers.

NEXT: Where's Nizar?

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  1. The vital role is of course to have other countries cough up money for reconstructing the shithole that Iraq is. I never doubted that the Bush administration wanted international support for that very reason. Iraq is going to be a very large money-pit for sometime.

  2. Gary, from what I’ve known of Bush, he’s pretty much done what he said he was going to do, with far fewer exceptions than most public leaders. He is also a person who learns from his mistakes.

    Now, if he’d learn from the mistake of his domestic policies, (Jose Padilla).

    Oh yeah, I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that the US will have give the largest amount of foreign aid. The vital role of the UN will be very efficient cafeteria workers. They will be necessary, since I’m sure the US military will be protecting Iraq for a while, much like Afghanistan.

    As for Sven, my mom may be a jerk, but at least she isn’t a slut like yours. 😛

  3. set,

    Read The New Republic, they’ve illustrated many of the Bush administration’s lies, half-truths, etc. over his Presidency.

    Ahh, I hate to break it to you, but foreign-aid wise, the US is fairly stingy per capita, and in gross really. Also, Germany and Japan are the nations who are contributing most, as far as I’ve seen in the press, to the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

    Now, let’s take a look at the G-7’s budgets for foreign aid and compare them.

    These figures are from the CIA Factbook: France $6.3 billion; Germany $5.6 billion; Japan $9.1 billion; USA $ 6.9 billion; UK $4.5 billion; Canada $1.3 billion; Italy $1 billion (the years for the figures range from 1998 to 2002 depending on the country, but I suspect that spending in these countries hasn’t increased all that dramatically over four years).

    Keep in mind that a country like France has only 59 million people in it in comparison to the US which has what, 280 million?

    Now look at the GDP of these various nations: France $1.54 trillion; Germany $2.184 trillion; Japan $ 3.55 trillion; USA $10.08 trillion; UK $1.52 trillion; Canada $923 billion; Italy $1.438 trillion

    I am not a huge fan of foreign aid, but I get tired of the myth that the world depends on US foreign aid, that Americans are the most generous nation vis a vis foreign aid, etc.

  4. I’d be curious to know if those foreign aid figures take into account the US defense budget, because we’re largely responsible for protecting almost every country on that list.

  5. Gary: I withdraw my previous statements. But Sven’s mom is still a slut.

  6. Well, with qualifications. I never said that the world is dependent on foreign aid. I said I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that the US will shoulder the burden of reconstruction until the oil wells are up. But I still retract my statements on Bush.

  7. A gun means what it says.

  8. RR Ryan,

    Per capita (and in relation to the overall size of their economies) almost all those countries spend a lot on defense (Canada is the oddball out). France, off the top of my head, spends around ~$45 billion every year on its defense budget, with an economy that is only about 15% of that of the US. Germany also spends around ~$45 billion a year. And these numbers were as I recall about twice as high during the Cold War, especially in the 1980s. The US defense budget of late has ranged from $325-350 billion dollars, so France spends between 12%-13% as much as the US on defense. Given the size of France’s economy, they are rougly proportionate it seems. This general porportionality bears out for the rest G-7 (excluding Canada) as well. Like I said, aside from Canada, all of the G-7 spend significant amounts – in relation to their GDP – on defense.

    And the fact that the G-7 (excluding Canada) spend a lot of money is to be expected. They are after all (not counting China) the world’s largest, most prosperous economies, and all of them (except perhaps Canada) have had traditions of raising and funding very large militaries.


    Yeah, I know, I really didn’t mean you. I just hate this myth that the American government tosses its largesse about the world, like some prancing leprechaun handing out his pot ‘o gold to everyone.

  9. I really wonder if they spent the whole summit sitting with a thesaurus: “A crucial role… no, how about a central role…. no … prominent … no … paramount … no … vital! A vital role!”

  10. it was posted here ‘elsewhere’ previously, but i guess it bears repeating, so what the h*ll! 😀

    “As events unfold, and as our administrators move in and begin work without even making an attempt at asking the UN for approval or asking the UN to participate in anything beyond distribution of food and medicine, Blair is eventually going to face the music: The UN role might be “vital” but the UN won’t be in charge and won’t have the power to make any important decisions over the objections of the US. Bush isn’t going to permit things to get gummed up again by endless kibitzer vetos. And it’s eventually going to become clear that as a practical matter Blair has chosen to side with Bush, mostly because he really has no other choice. As a practical matter, Blair really made that decision more than a year ago, but he hasn’t actually faced up to the consequences of it in public yet. The fiction of a British bridge between Europe and America won’t survive for very much longer.”

  11. Wouldn’t the world powers create a UN if there wasn’t one?

    As far as Blair throwing in with Bush whole hog, I think he’s a little more principled than that. Unless of course your position is that he has no principles at all, which would certainly cut down on the hagiography of the man a bit.

  12. vital

    Very necessary; highly important; essential

    I don’t think Bush is lying. I just think the UN and other countries will purposely misinterpret his words. If you get hurt or feel cheated because you hear what you want to hear instead of what someone is saying, then it’s your own fault.

  13. set,

    I think its funny when people don’t question the credibility of their leaders when it comes to foreign affairs, but automatically question the veracity of the claims of foreign heads of state simply because they are foreign. Such are the vagaries of nationalism.

  14. Heck, if I was Bush I’d let the UN take over the reconstruction, just so they can get the blame when it fails. The UN may want to do the peacekeeping, etc, but it’s not like they’re especially good at it.

    Who knows though, maybe we’ll do a better job at it than the UN could have.

  15. If you get hurt or feel cheated because you hear what you want to hear instead of what someone is saying, then it’s your own fault.

    So, are you implying that I’m a jerk because I think Bush was a jerk to use UN resolutions to justify his position, then dismissed the UN as irrelvant so he could invade Iraq?

    Well then I think you’re a jerk. Oh, and yo mama is a jerk, too.

  16. Maybe the Iraqi people should decide the role the UN should play.

    Too lazy to link but I like this (stole it from Ken Layne’s blog):

    Reuters journalists watched cheering crowds sack the United Nations headquarters in the Canal Hotel to the east of the city centre, a scene unthinkable under the rule of President Saddam Hussein ….

    [Reuters correspondent Khaled Yacoub] Oweis said looters drove off in U.N. cars.

  17. Blair is Labour. They’re just as bad as the French and don’t deserve any consideration.

  18. Last I heard, Iraq’s carrying a debt of about 120 billion dollars, much of it to France and Russia, plus hundreds of billions in war reparations from the last Gulf War. Once the oil fields are fixed up, oil revenues will be about 15 – 20 billion dollars a year – max.

    Somebody’s going to need make nice to the creditors if they want this thing to work out.

  19. dude,

    Isn’t the looting fairly random? It appears that was the case in Basra at least. Also, I suspect that the UN is probably one of the few places that might actually have something to loot. 🙂

    BTW, anonymous poster, why don’t you have the cajones to show your face?


    At least in case of France, the debts the Iraqis owe them pre-date GWI. France, especially under Chirac, has really never expected to collect on them as far as I can tell. Its also interesting that the US media never picked up on the fact that Fina doesn’t actually have any oil contracts with Iraq. There were negotiations in 1999 apparently, but the French never signed on the dotted line. There is an article in the Economist about it.

  20. “When we say vital role, that’s precisely what we mean,” Bush said at a joint news conference at the end of two days of meetings with Blair.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean? neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that?s all.”

  21. I got a vital role for the UN….
    Why don’t they just go back to comfy New York and make some “Resolutions” that they’ll fail to back up anyway. F*** the UN.

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