In fact, the only hope the United Nations has of being able to perform its self-assigned humanitarian functions on behalf of the Iraqi people is for the Coalition forces to succeed in defeating the enemies of a Free Iraq. This should motivate the organization’s Secretary General. Kofi Annan, and every member of the Security Council to support America’s efforts to stabilize and secure the country.
Unfortunately, a number of those on the Council -- notably, France, Russia and China -- and at least some among the UN bureaucracy appear no more interested in seeing the United States succeed in those efforts than are several of Iraq’s neighbors. Coalition officials have charged that Islamists and other terrorists are entering Iraqi territory from Syria (which is, as it happens, currently also a Security Council member), Iran and Saudi Arabia. Presumably, they are being allowed to do so to further these countries’ shared interest in preventing a democratic, peaceable and prosperous pro-Western nation from emerging from the ashes of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny.
Even if the UN Security Council were actually able -- and willing -- to regard Washington’s objectives in Iraq as both compatible with the best interests of the Iraqi people and conducive to those of the larger international community, there is one further reason for not adopting the Bosnia model: The people of Bosnia-Herzegovina seem likely to remain under UN suzerainty for years, if not decades, to come.
The only hope of sparing Iraq a similar fate is by allowing the responsibility for rapidly establishing the institutions and mechanisms for Iraqi self-governance to remain in the hands of an American-led civil administration truly committed to achieving that goal at the earliest possible time.
This is not to say that the United States should go it alone or eschew international help where it can be obtained without compromising the mission or its prospects of early achievement. In fact, the Bush Administration is doing neither; it has already secured the support of dozens of nations and is continuing to enlist more on terms conducive to success.
Arguably the most addled advice about military burden-sharing to emanate this week from one of the Sunday morning quarterbacks came from Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He would not only like to see an international mandate for operations in Iraq. He would also like one authorizing the deployment of U.S.-led NATO forces into an environment that would, if anything, likely make the Sunni triangle seem tranquil by comparison: The Senator wants American and other Western military units to be used to separate Israelis from Palestinians and to help subdue the latters’ terrorist factions.
In fairness to Senator Lugar, he is not the first to come up with or to espouse this lousy idea. Still, it should be clear that if the United States is anxious to avoid shouldering more military burdens, particularly in connection with difficult, urban campaigns against Islamist and other foes willing to die in order to kill Americans, there is a better option than the one he proposes. A far more sensible division of labor would be to let the Israelis deal with the Palestinian front in the war on terror than for the U.S. to try to get more help on surely less-than-satisfactory terms in Iraq while strapping on an inherently impossible new task: serving as the protector of Palestinians while conducting military operations against their embedded militants.
President Bush has done the American people and the world a great service by re-establishing a principle very nearly obscured by recent practice: The legitimacy of an American foreign policy initiative derives from its justness, wisdom and congressional approval, not from the vagaries of UN Security Council resolutions. Now is no time to go wobbly on that principle.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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