Cheap Lone

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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.

NEXT: Weighty Matters

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  1. Love the scare quotes around “internationalists.” Are they not really internationalists? Is internationalist some novel slang term? What’s up with that?

    “Does Lone seriously think any state really wants to send troops to Iraq?” Quite possibly. We’ve turned Iraq into such a timebomb that other global and regional powers are likely getting nervous about the jihadi factory it’s become.

  2. it seems utterly absurd today to mention a UN force as a realist alternative to American troops.

    i fully agree.

    but that doesn’t mean the elections are necessarily then even remotely legitimate — regardless of what some kurds and shias (or many americans) say or may want to believe, regardless of manipulated and outright fabricated turnout numbers and tallies manufactured for western consumption.

    does anyone really imagine that the american-appointed and managed puppet government in place now has not taken what we in chicago call “all the necessary precautions”? does anyone think that the list of candidates and the marketing allowances made to them have not been gamed by the white house, considering all that is riding on them? and does anyone that the results will yield what anyone in their right mind would call a sovereign government — while a foreign power occupies all the major cities of the state?

    that betrays a remarkably naive belief, imo, in the beneficence of men who lied rapturously to get this thing started in the first place.

    of course, given the competency on display by this administration all along, the cynical truth that this has been all along a stage-managed event is far from any guarantee that osama bin laden himself won’t win the presidency of iraq.

    i think we have to begin to consider the likelihood that there is no solution to iraq. there is nothing to be done. this sham election, which carries even less weight of many other mideastern elections, will pass like newsprint in the wind — and the insurgency against american rule will keep right on going. the british have done this all before. the iraqis know who is really in charge when saddam’s palace is an “annex” to the american embassy.

  3. Riiiight.

    No other nation has even seriously hinted at sending troops there. Maybe the UN could set up some sort of “RPGs-for-food” amnesty program for the insurgents. Yeah that’s the ticket.

  4. “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”

    When the nominees are anonymous, the “election” is nothing but a bingo game. Michael, how could you possibly have a legitimate election when you don’t even know who you are electing?

  5. Well, we could put the French in charge of Iraq. You know, since they’ve done such a bang-up job over in the Ivory Coast and all.

  6. “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?”

    Perhaps the situation was dangerous for the UN employees because of the presence of troops under the US command.

  7. “a UN force as a realist alternative to American troops.”

    You know, I’ve heard that “UN forces” have actually included troops from the United States before. Anybody got anything on this?

  8. 80% of Iraqis – in the most violent parts of the country – say they are going to brave terrorist attacks to go out and vote this Sunday. But you in your superior wisdom already know that “tthe list of candidates and the marketing allowances made to them have . . . been gamed by the white house.”

    So I guess you think the Iraqis are naive and stupid. I think they are brave and way more mature than you.

  9. Yes, a, the political implications of changing the command of the “peacekeeping” force from the army that invaded the country to an international institution don’t seem to have occured to Mr. Young.

    I mean, troops under the command of George Bush, with a mandate to bring Iraq to heel and promote US interests (however noble you might consider those interests) are viewed exactly the same way as troops under the command of the Security Council, with a mandate to transition Iraq to self determination and democracy.

  10. Yeh joe, we all know how respected the blue beret are by what a bangup job the UN has done in the former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda, and the Sudan. When the UN successfully intervenes without the US doing the heavy lifting, then perhaps they can be taken seriously.

  11. Given that Lone’s own piece, joe, describes how many feel that the UN is subservient to the US anyway, it seems to me that you’re projecting your own attitudes towards the two institutions onto Iraqis.

  12. So I guess you think the Iraqis are naive and stupid. I think they are brave and way more mature than you.

    that’s wonderful, mr yehudit — and quite the contrary to your assertion, i happen to think they’re in a tragic state and are doing the best they can. but in no way does that make their election legitimate.

    i don’t blame them for being hopeful — and even i suspect that the people they elect will have some authority, so long as they don’t exercize it too strenuously. but there’s the rub: “do whatever you want, so long as we approve of it.” does that sound like sovereignty to you?

    please. let’s drop this stupid charade. this is a country under the thumb of washington, where it will remain until such time as 150,000 american troops aren’t occupying it and it isn’t the vanguard of a trotskyite global revolution in the minds of american leadership.

    and i think you must believe iraqis quite stupid if you think they don’t know it.

  13. When the UN successfully intervenes without the US doing the heavy lifting, then perhaps they can be taken seriously.

    i have to be cynical on this count as well, mr joe. even if such a force could be mounted — and it can’t be, imho — the un is a well-known strategic tool for the imposition of western authority.

    there is perhaps some hope that a force of turkish, iranian, egyptian and jordanian forces could be assembled under un auspices. if anyone can engineer that, i’d be happy to consider it.

  14. So Junyo, when WAS the last car bombing in Bosnia?

    The UN didn’t do a bangup job in Rwanda – they didn’t do ANY gob in Rwanda, because they weren’t given authority to go it. Let me say here and now that I do not want the UN to ignore Iraq the way it was compelled (by people who put “internationalist” in scare quotes) to ignore Rwanda.

    Josh, that is a real political problem – not as serious as the perception that the troops battling the insurgency are on an imperialist mission, but real nonetheless. While UN authority brings its own set of political problems, they are smaller and more manageable. Step one in overcoming that perception would be a clear and genuine transfer of power.

  15. …this is a country under the thumb of washington…
    I eagerly await the reports of troops herding Iraqis into polling booths, and beheading the ones that vote incorrectly.

  16. You heard it here first: anything short of troops herding and beheading people isn’t coercion.

  17. So Junyo, when WAS the last car bombing in Bosnia?

    I have no idea Joe, but I do know that there’s almost constant ethnic violence in Bosnia, crippling unemployment, and the sme nationalists paries that started the war back in power, under the watch of the UN’s “nationbuilders”.

    That the UN wasn’t “allowed” to do anything in Rwanda, other than evacuate Europeans while Africans were slaughtered it shows the institutional uselessness of the UN. What good are peacekeepers that need to obtain permission to stop genocide?

  18. The UN didn’t do a bangup job in Rwanda – they didn’t do ANY gob in Rwanda, because they weren’t given authority to go it. Let me say here and now that I do not want the UN to ignore Iraq the way it was compelled (by people who put “internationalist” in scare quotes) to ignore Rwanda.

    Weren’t given the authority? They chose to ignore it on your own.

    (by people who put “internationalist” in scare quotes)

    Which would be your boy Bill Clinton.

  19. Junyo, if you could arrange for Iraq to have the level of peace and stability that prevails in Bosnia, they’d put your portrait next to Dr. King’s.

    As for your second point, I agree that the UN force would have to have authorization to keep the peace to be effective in Iraq.

    It wasn’t the “institutional weakness” of the UN that prevented the peacekeeper forces from intervening – it was a decision made by the members of the Security Council, most notably the US, to deny them the authority to keep the peace. Just to be clear, I am arguing in FAVOR of giving a UN force that authority, and YOU are arguing AGAINST it.

  20. “You heard it here first: anything short of troops herding and beheading people isn’t coercion.”

    Well I’m sure in your mind the lack of voting machines that caused waiting in line at a polling place was coercion. Therefore I’m certain that regardless of the results and or circumstances, you and your ilk will rationalize discounting the outcome. Rove and his demon hordes summoned up a sandstorm to deliberately depress turnout in the notoriously sandstorm sensitive Sunni areas, or something of the like.

  21. It wasn’t the “institutional weakness” of the UN that prevented the peacekeeper forces from intervening – it was a decision made by the members of the Security Council, most notably the US, to deny them the authority to keep the peace.

    Revisionist history again Joe? It was under pressure from France, because of the embarrassment of the Belgians already there, that the UN wouldn’t allow force to be used.

  22. TPG, I have no idea what “they choose to ignore it on your own” means. I do know that the commander on the scene asked for authority to intervene, and was denied that authority by Annan, because the SC hadn’t authorized it. I also know that the issue was raised at the SC and rejected. Finally, I realize that Bill Clinton was the President when this occurred, and that he bears a great deal of responsibility. It’s one of my biggest beefs with him.

    Junyo, I don’t consider the lack of voting machines to be coercion. I also don’t consider coercion to be the only sin a government can commit.

    Not sure where you’re going with the Karl Rove/sandstorm thing. Perhaps an attempt to draw attention to the fact that the people who organized this demonstration of democracy’s legitimacy made their job harder with their behavior surrounding the last two elections?

  23. I didn’t realize Bill Clinton was French.

    Thanks for sharing.

  24. If Bill Clinton Is french, that would explain a lot.

  25. Junyo, if you could arrange for Iraq to have the level of peace and stability that prevails in Bosnia, they’d put your portrait next to Dr. King’s.

    The level of stability is probably currently comparable. Bosnia would descend back into civil war rather quickly wihout the peacekeepers; so would Iraq. And over the same timeframe, I don’t doubt that Iraq will be better off. Bosnia had 5 years of open civil war, plus 10 years of peacekeeping to get to this not so great point. Iraq is better positioned, is terms of resources and incentive, to get their act togather in a abreviated timeframe. 12 years from now I think they’ll be a lot better off than Bosnia currently is.

    It wasn’t the “institutional weakness” of the UN that prevented the peacekeeper forces from intervening – it was a decision made by the members of the Security Council, most notably the US, to deny them the authority to keep the peace. Just to be clear, I am arguing in FAVOR of giving a UN force that authority, and YOU are arguing AGAINST it.

    As long as security council members are free to pursue their national interests and those interests conflict, the UN is useless. You’re indulging in revisionist history. The UN would be in Iraq today, right now if France and Russia hadn’t blocked it. That the US wasn’t compelled to allow other countries to dictate it’s interest is the point. The UN isn’t a club consisting only of boyscouts. People that were being actively bribed by Saddam were involved in the decisionmaking regarding him and you would have us take that as a good thing.

  26. I eagerly await the reports of troops herding Iraqis into polling booths, and beheading the ones that vote incorrectly.

    tell me, mr junyo — do you need to be smashed in the face with a baseball bat before you realize that you’re in the “wrong” line?

    give iraqis more credit than this.

  27. The level of stability is probably currently comparable.

    this delusion is laughable, my junyo. bosnia is by no means free of the ancient afflictions of the balkans — but neither is it in the utter disarray of iraq.

    i don’t disagree with your point entirely — but defend it sensibly, sir.

  28. Apologies to the Goiter, didn’t see that you’d already made one of the points.

    Not sure where you’re going with the Karl Rove/sandstorm thing.

    Precisely where you took it. If the Republicans cheated the las two elections, they didn’t do anything that the Democrats didn’t/wouldn’t do …except for whine endlessly about it. And the constant, shrill, and increasing paranoid whining undermines any real claim you might make.

  29. tell me, mr junyo — do you need to be smashed in the face with a baseball bat before you realize that you’re in the “wrong” line?

    give iraqis more credit than this.
    As alway gauis, a posting in search of content, point, or reason. At least you’re consistent.

  30. Somebody thow Junyo a floatation device.

    “As long as security council members are free to pursue their national interests and those interests conflict, the UN is useless.” Really? The political cover we got in Korea was of no benefit? Things would have gone just as smoothly for the Aussies in East Timor if they had been acting unilaterally, without a UN mandate?

    Why I’m bothering to attempt an honest discussion with someone who feels it useful to say “The UN isn’t a club consisting only of boyscouts. People that were being actively bribed by Saddam were involved in the decisionmaking regarding him and you would have us take that as a good thing” eludes me, but the optimist in my holds out hope that you can up with a statement about the political benefits of having UN authority for a mission that doesn’t involve arguments this bogus and irrelevant.

  31. Big minds talk about ideas, Junyo. Mediocre minds talks about things. Small minds talk about people.

    To the question of whether the Bush admin’s authority over peacekeeping and elections harms our efforts to make them appear legitimate, you responded that I whined about the elections, and therefore you don’t have to think about my ideas.

  32. …but the optimist in my holds out hope that you can up with a statement about the political benefits of having UN authority for a mission that doesn’t involve arguments this bogus and irrelevant.

    UN authority is an oxymoron.

  33. Big minds talk about ideas, Junyo. Mediocre minds talks about things. Small minds talk about people.
    Get over yourself.

    I was talking in general terms about the meme that gives credence to every Bush/Rove stole the election conspiracy theory, not you specifically. However you validated my point directly by responding with “… the people who organized this demonstration of democracy’s legitimacy made their job harder with their behavior surrounding the last two elections?” What behavior would that be, other than winning? Other than the whining, what evidence, indictments, investigations, are there that the current administration engaged in anything other than hardball politics? Inuendo isn’t evidence, and that you seem to believe that it should be certainly does speak to the size of one of our minds.

    “Really? The political cover we got in Korea was of no benefit?”
    Apparently not, since Korea got nukes under our noses.
    “Things would have gone just as smoothly for the Aussies in East Timor if they had been acting unilaterally, without a UN mandate?”
    Operationally, yeah, they would have gone as smoothly, since the UN has no ability to effect the actual effectiveness of a military operation. From a foreign relations standpoint, maybe not, but the UN isn’t the only forum where the Aussies could’ve gotten approval from the countries than actually matter. You want a statement about the political benefits of having UN authority for a mission? Fine, the UN is a timesaving clearinghouse when you need Botswana’s rubber stamp on something. But in any circumstance where the Security Council members have differing interests, it’s useless except to promote inaction. And if you think that pointing out the possible conflict of interest that results in having nations decide issues in which those nations or those nation’s decisionmakers have a vested interest is “bogus and irrelevant”, then again that certainly does speak to the size of one of our minds. The situation which has been declared genocide will never come to a vote because France and China have interest in the ountry that they’ll use their vetos to protect. Tell me how useful the UN is for the people being raped and murdered as we speak.

  34. The situation [in Dafur] which has been declared genocide will never come to a vote because France and China have interest in the ountry that they’ll use their vetos to protect.

  35. Michael Young’s post: In fact, Lone’s piece is a bad-tempered regurgitation of the same (sometimes legitimate, but usually merely spleen lightening)

    A slightly different word, but it immediately struck me (no pun intended) that “Spleen Lightning” would be a great name for a rock band.

  36. Y’know, Scottish SF writer and leftist/libertarian hybrid Ken MacLeod’s “Fall Revolution” series (beginning with The Star Fraction) posits a future where the UN becomes a mere de facto extension of US foreign policy. The idea being that whenever military action is taken, the UN provides the diplomatic/PR cover, but the US, as the World’s Last Superpower, provides most of the UN’s money and military muscle, and therefore is pretty much able to dictate where, when and how the UN intervenes.

    This gives rise to a Yank-led de facto world empire, commonly referred to as “the US/UN.”

    It doesn’t seem too plausible right now, but it did when the book was written, prior to the US intervention in Iraq. Iraq has created a rift between the US and most other UN members, but I’m sure it will blow over and there will be future opportunities for US/UN collusion in international affairs. Reason for leftist and opponents of US imperialism, as well as US unilateralists, America-firsters and UltraBigGovernment-fearers, to be wary of the UN.

  37. First sentence of my last paragraphs should have been:

    It doesn’t seem too plausible right now, but it did when the book was written, in the wake of Gulf War I and prior to the current US intervention in Iraq.

  38. Junyo, the oil for food scam had absolutely nothing to do with the lack of support from France and Russia, or the the reason we HAD to go it “alone”, unilateraly. Don’t be such a fool. I can’t hear youLALALALALAL.. .no blood for oil…LALALA.. .selected not elected.. ..LALALALA….illegal war.. ..LALALALA..unilateral…LALALAalienated our allies..LALALALA..quagmire..LALALALA

  39. Junyo, I was referring to the Korean War of the 1950s. You don’t think having UN support strengthened our hand?

    Also, it doesn’t matter what YOU think about Bush’s legitimacy as a promoter of democracy. It matters, in the case of Iraq, what the Iraqis think. If they perceive democracy and those promoting it as cheaters who don’t really give a fig about legitimacy, wouldn’t that make the arguments of those opposed to democracy – the accusation that it is corrupt, and the high minded language being used, dishonest – more credible?

    I’ll grant you that the UN can’t bring any political benefits if it won’t issue a resolution authorizing involvement. But at this time, there is no way to be certain, one way or another, whether a resolution would be forthcoming. You people (YOU PEOPLE!) didn’t want Bush to try to get a resolution authorizing inspections, because you were so certain that no such resolution could ever be passed. Well, you were wrong.

    Let’s consider the possibility that you might be wrong again. If the UN Security Council authorized UN administration in Iraq, don’t you think the political benefits of having the occupation authority and elections accepted as legitimate by more Iraqis, and by more government outside Iraq, would be helpful?

  40. The grownups are talking, Slacker. Go play Atari.

  41. I would say that UN support strengthened our hand in Korea, but I think it’s important to remember that that was half a century ago, less than a decade into the UN’s existence, and that we only got that support by rushing the resolution through the Security Council while the Russians were boycotting for unrelated reasons.

  42. Whew. This whole thread is a great illustration of the total disconnect between the two sides on Iraq. It shows that there virtually no overlap whatsoever in what each side percieves as reality.

    I must say, though, that anyone who thinks that a UN complicit to its eyeballs in the oil scandal could now step in and oversee Iraq is smoking crack. Without the oil scandal, I can imagine a plausible scenario, but face facts, people – the UN was complicit in the looting of the Iraqi oil program and Saddamite kleptocracy. No way can they have much of a role in Iraq after that.

  43. joe: It wasn’t the “institutional weakness” of the UN that prevented the peacekeeper forces from intervening – it was a decision made by the members of the Security Council, most notably the US, to deny them the authority to keep the peace.

    TPG: Revisionist history again Joe? It was under pressure from France, because of the embarrassment of the Belgians already there, that the UN wouldn’t allow force to be used.

    joe’s closer to right. General Romeo Dallaire requested additional manpower and firepower to resist the killers. UNSC refused to send or delayed sending it.

    Since the French sent troops unilateraly and the US supported the Belgians in a total withdrawal I have a hard time seeing the “pressure from France”.

    I’m ready to slag the UN or the French any day of the week but not at the expense of truth.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/ghosts/etc/crontext.html

  44. RC, the UN as an institution was not complicit in the Oil for Food bribes. The illegal activies were, well, illegal, forbidden under the rules set up the UN. Obviously, no one implicated in the crimes (a group which includes a number of Americans) should be placed in a position of authority. But what you fail to realize is that the UN is a forum, not a power unto itself. A UN mandate does not mean that Iraq will be governed from Turtle Bay, but that a peacekeeping/electoral/security force will be (if such a resolution can indeed get through) put in place with the consent not just of George Bush, but of the various countries in the world operating in conjunction.

    No one is suggesting that Kofi Annan’s son be named Interior Minister.

  45. “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.”

    This statement makes perfect sense to me considering the statement that directly follows it:

    “Even then, peace after the bloodbaths will take years to achieve. Which is why a beginning must be made now for the United States to extricate itself from Iraq.”

    Lone’s argument appears to be that because there’s no reason to believe that the insurgency will stop after and because of the election, we should get the U.N. involved. That is, he seems to be arguing that eventually–long after the elections have been held–the ultimate solution to the continued insurgency and the prevention of a full scale civil war will be the U.N.

    One of the reasons the U.N. won’t get involved now is because we’ve alienated the other members of the Security Council, or as he says:

    “Despite its search for greater legitimacy for its preferred Iraqi leadership, the United States has studiously avoided the UN Security Council, since it knows most of its members abhor what is being done to Iraq (but have found it easier to keep their counsel and let this adventure self-destruct).”

    He points out that another reason U.N. involvement won’t work right now is because the U.N. is seen by many as a tool of the United States.

    A withdrawal by the United States addresses both points. First, the members of the Security Council might be more inclined to provide a peacekeeping and nation building force where they were not inclined to play a supporting role in the occupation of Iraq by the United States. Second, if the United States no longer occupied Iraq, a U.N. force would look like less of a tool.

    He seems to be suggesting that the United States can leave Iraq now or it can leave in the wake of a bloodbath. Take your pick. Either way–he seems to be arguing, eventually, the United States will have to leave, and the U.N. will have to take over.

    I’m not sure I agree with that, but I’m not sure I disagree with it either. Still, I’m not convinced that Lone’s piece is necessarily self-contradictory.

  46. Junyo, I was referring to the Korean War of the 1950s. You don’t think having UN support strengthened our hand?
    Josh pretty much gave my answer. The UN of the 50’s was composed of people that were fairly fresh from looking evil in the eye without blinking. Not really the same organization today.

    It matters, in the case of Iraq, what the Iraqis think…Let’s consider the possibility that you might be wrong again. If the UN Security Council authorized UN administration in Iraq, don’t you think the political benefits of having the occupation authority and elections accepted as legitimate by more Iraqis, and by more government outside Iraq, would be helpful?
    And I can’t imagine that the Iraqis would have the ability to genuinely believe that a fair election under any circumstances. Democracy involves a certain amount of trust that the people actually operating the mechanisms are trustworthy. With absolutely no experiance in having the chance to actually pick their leaders, dealing with the disappoinment when their guys loses, (but a tremendous amount of experiance in getting fucked over by the West) I would think the average Iraqi, if he’s as cynical as me, views it as a day off and a nonbinding poll. However that’s better than anything they’ve ever had before. And as the institutions get built, they’ll demand more, as they begin to understand that they actually can demand stuff from their government. That the UN is incapable of grasping the extant situation and supporting democracy on principle, even if they didn’t like how we got to this point speaks volumes as to the strained relationship that exists between the organization and the actual pursuit of global freedom. It’s alo a slap in the face to the Iraqi; ‘We could help make sure that a fair and equitable government is setup in your country, but the US hurt our feelings so fuck you…’ I can’t imagine how the Iraqis could care less whether the the UN legitimized the occupation of their country. I also can’t imagine how such an authorization would effect the primary source of their misery, namely the insurgents that alternate between killing them and using them as shields, that are fighting for them, but have declared 80% of them to be infidels, that wouldn’t be putting on elections,however flawed, but rather vow to kill anyone interested in exercising their basic right of self determination. Other than the rather selfish desire to have other nations doing some of the bleeding, no I don’t really see any advantage in UN buy-in. Sorry.

    And before you wave that “You people” around too much, FYI I was a Democrat until you people flipped the fuck out over Iraq. But I’m a red statertoo, so…

    …the UN as an institution was not complicit in the Oil for Food bribes.But the UN did put insufficient safeguards into place, and didn’t act when the story started to become public.

  47. joe

    I think the example of Korea would be more apposite if you would imagine that the UN of the 50’s had actively campaigned AGAINST liberating Iraq from the Japanese (as opposed to consisting largely of the allies who liberated Korea from the Japanese) and had recently been complicit in looting the wealth of Korea to the tune of whatever the 50’s equivalent of $20 Billion was.

    Everyone who trumpets greater involvement for the UN really believes that the UN has greater credibility with Europe, the American Left and Arabs living in controlled societies…which is unquestionably true.

    But what does that have to do with providing Iraq with self-government?

    The UN has never been able to deliver elections in a society with no previous history of them in less than two years after undertaking the task. The UN has considerably LESS incentive to see that things work out well in Iraq than the current US administration does. Does anyone seriously picture the UN stopping looting in April/May 2003?

  48. “I think the example of Korea would be more apposite if you would imagine that the UN of the 50’s had actively campaigned AGAINST liberating Iraq from the Japanese…”

    Change Iraq to Korea.

    Lets face, left to the UN we wouldn’t be discussing elections anytime in the lifetime of Saddam – much less this Sunday.

  49. The level of stability is probably currently comparable. Bosnia would descend back into civil war rather quickly wihout the peacekeepers; so would Iraq. And over the same timeframe, I don’t doubt that Iraq will be better off. Bosnia had 5 years of open civil war, plus 10 years of peacekeeping to get to this not so great point. Iraq is better positioned, is terms of resources and incentive, to get their act togather in a abreviated timeframe. 12 years from now I think they’ll be a lot better off than Bosnia currently is.

    fwiw, neoconservative hawk larry kaplan disagrees in the new republic in a piece called the tragic end to a liberal iraq:

    If Iraq the place has for some time now borne scant resemblance to Iraq the abstraction, the distance only became greater with President Bush’s inaugural address. The president spoke not only of supporting democracy, but of “support[ing] the growth of democratic movements and institutions.” To the world’s “democratic reformers,” Bush pledged, “America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.” But in Iraq, the very centerpiece of the U.S. campaign to export democracy, “democratic movements and institutions” are dying, the result of illiberalism, U.S. neglect, and, above all, sheer physical insecurity. As it grinds into its third year, the war for a liberal Iraq is destroying the dream of a liberal Iraq.

    If liberal democracy–that is, a political system that protects basic rights and freedoms–is a political choice, an act of will, then someone must create and sustain it. In Iraq, however, those someones–Iraqi liberals–have been so thoroughly marginalized that Sunday’s elections, which should be the crowning achievement of Iraqi liberalism, may instead signal its end.

    long piece and surprising reading coming from one of the cadre.

  50. “Lets face, left to the UN we wouldn’t be discussing elections anytime in the lifetime of Saddam – much less this Sunday.”

    Removing Saddam from power may have made a democratic Iraq more likely, but it didn’t make a democratic Iraq probable.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a policy that allows for more possible outcomes than just multicultural, pluralist democracy or eternal U.S. occupation?

  51. Ken and quaius seem like the types who believe in “capitalism first – democracy someday”: some benevolent sheik is going to keep the jihadis suppressed, and encourage a commercial middle-class until the time is ripe for majoritarian rule…perhaps one or two generations from now.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t see this as plausible at all. The benevolent sheik would be even more vunerable to jihadi violence than a democracy, would have fewer resources to call on…and less incentive to stick with it – how much does he care about “enlightening” anyone, anyway, if he is maintaining some kind of tyranny meantime?

  52. “(but a tremendous amount of experiance in getting fucked over by the West)”

    The Iraqis, and the Middle East at large, have gotten much more of this from their own gov’ts, than from the west. So we can expect them to be cynical.

    Still, the idea that the UN is going to do anything constructive in Iraq is laugh-able. If the US doesn’t do something good, then nothing good is going to happen in Iraq. If we want *any* chance of doing anything good, we’re better off keeping the UN out of it.

    I have never understood why people look up to the UN the way they do. I understand the dream that the UN is supposed to represent. I just don’t understand why anyone thinks that the UN is ever going to fulfill that dream.

    The elections in Iraq — legitimate or not? Well, there is a bingo game element to this first round. Imposing democracy in Iraq leaves us no choice. But a bingo game beginning is far, far better than no beginning at all. If the US pulls out, there will be no bingo game and no beginning.

    Any gov’t at all that anyone tries to set up in Iraq, is going to be running on thin ice to start. Iraq is not accustomed to a strong central gov’t that even approaches being humane. Neither is the rest of the Middle East. History imposes its own sort of inertia.

    A bingo game beginning is about the only idea anybody’s put forth, that I see as having any chance in hell of ever succeeding. And at that, the bingo game is a long shot.

  53. Just heard an NPR piece about a “Kurdistan Referendum” being added to ballots in the north of Iraq. Even IF the election is deemed in some way a “success,” my guess is the 8-decade fiction of Iraq as a single sovereign nation or some kind of multiethnic republic is beginning its final chapter. Possibly, a “successful” election cycle – as this is only phase 1 – will act to hasten this, and it may in fact be the most constructive solution.

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