Huh? The United Nations is idealist and the U.S. is not? For many Europeans and U.S. leftists, apparently, the answer is yes. Most Americans feel exactly the reverse: The U.N. provokes cynicism and suspicion, while our own government is a depository of cherished ideals of freedom and self-government. No powerful nation in the history of the world has done what we propose to do for Iraq, what we have already done for Germany and Japan: conquer, liberate, rebuild. Of course, we had our own interests in each intervention -- preventing a threat to our nation. But we have no interest in running other countries.
Righteous advocates for U.N. idealism should consider by contrast what happened to Cambodia in 1993 when the United Nations supervised free and fair elections. The loser (communist dictator Hun Sen) threatened war with the U.N. So the U.N. caved, negotiating a coalition government between the loser of the election and the winner. Predictably, within a few months the communist tyrant who lost the election swallowed up the democratic victor, and once again the United Nations did nothing. Just as the United Nations and Europe failed to stop the slaughter in Kosovo before the United States stepped in. Just as in 1995, in Srebrenica, U.N. troops set up a safe enclave for Muslims, then stood by and watched the Serbs massacre the people they had promised to protect.
What gives a government legitimacy, Kofi Annan? Is it the general acceptance that comes when citizens witness their government generally acting in defense of the common good? The will of the people perhaps? Or must the Iraqi people get the U.N. seal of approval to form a government?
Is it really the United States whose ambitions are imperialist here?
"Not in my name," says the diehard anti-war crowd. OK, guys, it's a deal: not in your name.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.