Cheap Lone


In the latest installment of bizarro, conceited op-eds on "what we should be doing next" in Iraq, one Salim Lone, a former advisor to the UN's late representative in Baghdad, Sergio Vieira de Mello, has churned out a piece for the International Herald Tribune's media service which you will be hard-pressed to make head or tail of. Worse, Lone, in arguing that Iraq's election on Sunday "is not an election that any democratic nation, or indeed any independent international electoral organization, would recognize as legitimate," makes a mistake in unquestioningly restating a cliche with which Iraq's Shiites and Kurds might well beg to differ

In fact, Lone's piece is a bad-tempered regurgitation of the same (sometimes legitimate, but usually merely spleen lightening) gripes which "internationalists" have been throwing at the Bush administration's face for 2 years–minus a lining of common sense.

The nub of the tirade is this passage:

The only hope for peace in Iraq now is the United States agreeing to exit Iraq in exchange for an international force and mission under UN auspices, which would from the very outset indicate to Iraqis that its sole purpose was to help them become genuinely democratic.

Aside for the fact that the proposal is rendered useless by Lone's earlier sentence where he writes that there is "widespread Muslim perceptions of UN subservience to the world's sole superpower", it seems utterly absurd today to mention a UN force as a realistic alternative to American troops. Does Lone seriously think any state really wants to send troops to Iraq? Does he think the insurgents will not attack the UN (after all he does remember what they did to his boss)? Has he forgotten that the UN pulled out of Iraq in large part because its own employees, after de Mello's death, refused to continue working there because of the dangerous conditions?

I can think of a dozen other reasons why the proposal makes no sense, and then wonder why the person floating such a preposterous idea was advising the UN's senior man in Baghdad, and being paid for it.