Let’s quit beating around the bush. A U.S. military victory in Iraq is not the goal anymore. Both sides-President Bush and the liberal Democrats-want to turn the country over to the United Nations. The only question is when, not if, U.S. forces will withdraw, and whether the timing of the withdrawal will make any difference in the outcome.
Consider that a July 20 op-ed in the New York Times, “Why the United Nations Belongs in Iraq,” was written not by liberal Democrat Carl Levin but by Bush’s own U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
Despite all of the hoopla in the press about major differences between the Bush Administration and Congressional Democrats, they are united on one critical thing-giving the U.N. a much bigger role in Iraq. And this spells serious trouble, if not defeat, for a U.S. Iraq policy that once held out the hope of victory over the terrorists. It is time for honest conservatives to face the hard facts about the disastrous Bush Administration approach.
On July 18, most Senate Republicans voted against the Levin-Reed amendment “to withdraw troops from Iraq,” as the stories put it. While it did include a timetable for withdrawal, it also proposed that the U.N. essentially take over the country. It said that “the President shall direct the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States at the United Nations to seek the appointment of an international mediator in Iraq, under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council, who has the authority of the international community to engage political, religious, ethnic, and tribal leaders in Iraq in an inclusive political process.”
A Heritage Foundation report depicted the Levin-Reed amendment as a “Cut in the U.N. and Run” approach to Iraq. But the Bush approach is to cut in the U.N. and walk. It’s all a matter of timing. Both sides want to see the U.N. take charge.
Only two days after Senate Republicans voted against Levin-Reed, Zalmay Khalilzad proposed basically the same approach. He declared that the U.S. supports “a larger United Nations role in Iraq” and proposed that the world body undertake “complex internal and regional mediation efforts” and “help internationalize the effort to stabilize the country.”
Khalilzad said that “A new United Nations envoy should have a mandate to help Iraqis complete work on a range of issues: the law governing distribution of hydrocarbon revenues, the reform of the de-Baathification law, the review of the Constitution, the plan for demobilization of militias, an agreement for insurgents to give up their armed struggle. The envoy should be empowered to help resolve the status of Kirkuk and disputed internal boundaries and to prepare and monitor provincial elections. Also, the mandate should make it possible for the United Nations to explore potential third-party guarantees that may be needed to induce Iraqi factions to reconcile.”
Anybody with an open mind who compares the pro-U.N. language of the Levin-Reed amendment with the Khalilzad column would have to conclude that they are in basic agreement. The only difference between their approaches is the length of time U.S. forces would stay in Iraq in order to prop up the Iraqi government and its U.N. puppet masters. The Levin-Reed amendment proposed that the U.S. begin withdrawing troops in 120 days and it set an April 30, 2008 deadline for bringing troop levels to a “limited presence.” Bush doesn’t want any fixed date on withdrawing U.S. forces. But that is all that separates them.
Some might respond that this is a huge difference. But how much of a difference can it be when Bush and the Democrats agree on the fundamental issue of turning the country over to the U.N.? If, by some chance, the situation in Iraq stabilizes and the Iraqi government survives, who will be given the credit? I think we all know the answer to that. We can hear the commentators saying that the U.N. will have “saved” the U.S. in Iraq.
On July 17-one day before most Republican Senators voted against the Levin-Reed amendment with its pro-U.N. language-Bush met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and appealed for a larger U.N. role in Iraq. “We are going to help their political facilitation, as well as economic and social reconstruction,” the U.N. boss responded. He went on to say that, “?we also are going to continue the international compact process for Iraq?This will provide good opportunity for Iraqi people and international community to work together for peace and security in Iraq.”
This sounds almost precisely what Khalilzad would say three days later in his Times op-ed piece. He declared that “the United Nations has an added advantage by virtue of its role as co-leader with the Iraqi government of the International Compact for Iraq, an agreement that commits Iraq’s leaders to key political steps and policy reforms in exchange for economic and other support from the international community. The influence that the United Nations has over the release of any assistance will give its envoy significant leverage to encourage compromises among Iraqi leaders.”
What this means is that the U.N., with U.S. financial backing as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw, will take over more and more responsibility for Iraq, using increased foreign aid as leverage to bring the Iraqi factions together.
Those who supported this war have to seriously ask themselves whether giving the U.N. more power over the outcome in Iraq is worth the loss of one more American life.