Austin Bay

When Resolution 1546 passed in 2004, a few of us hoped that it signaled a willingness by France, Germany, Russia and other coalition critics to help Iraq rebuild. It didn't. Thus, it's easy to dismiss the Security Council's August 2007 decision to help foster Iraqi national reconciliation.

However, France and Germany's feckless leaders of 2004 are gone. The dynamic Nicholas Sarkozy has replaced the corrupt Jacques Chirac. In Germany, the pragmatic Angela Merkel has replaced Gerhard Schroeder. American U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the new resolution recognizes that "what happens in Iraq has strategic implications not only for the region, but for the entire world" and should serve as "a springboard to greater international support for Iraq's government and people."

Springboard is a choice word. It will be years before the United Nations has the personnel and infrastructure inside Iraq to do more than encourage dialog and solicit aid.

Perhaps the resolution is more symbolic than substantial. Symbolism in lieu of substance, which usually means rhetoric in lieu of action, characterizes almost every U.N. endeavor. However, this may be the case where symbolism promotes discrete but productive action. Iraq's Al Azzaman Website quoted a senior U.N. spokesman as saying: "The U.N. is not concerned with what America wants. ... We as an international organization will work to fulfill Iraqi ambitions and cooperate with the government."

The United Nations gives the Iraqi government a new diplomatic channel to coax anti-U.S. opposition groups into the political process. And that is most welcome.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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