Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Rosie DiManno, of the Toronto Star, has been a big booster for the Iraqi adventure from the get-go. She bought into all the arguments, repeated the "flowers and kisses" arguments, and continues to say that dictatorship (she calls it "genocidal", but I don't necessarily share that interpretation) is a fine sole reason for American conquest.

Now, however, she appears tied up in knots. Faced with the reality that the U.S. is going pleading to the U.N. for help, what's her reaction?

Humble does not become America.

It's also a very bad message to send to the rest of the world — that the only nation on earth with sufficient bite to back up its bark can be reduced to the position of supplicant when asking for assistance in an hour of need.

It would therefore ill behoove the United Nations — by which we mean its more aggrieved, nose-out-of-joint members — to make exacting and punitive demands on the United States after finally getting what it ostensibly most covet: A piece of power in Iraq, dressed up as multilateralism. Oil revenues, reconstruction contracts, political currency, a slice of the profitable pie that will eventually be Iraq when it emerges from this current chaotic period, a difficult passage clearly underestimated in its complications by the White House and the Pentagon.
"Humble ill behooves America"? "It's a bad message"? I haven't heard this argument from freepers. It not only misses the point that Bush is not America and a goodly proportion of the American people wanted no part of his foreign adventure, but this (and the rest of the piece) completely misses the fact that both the U.N. and its Security Council members have a real interest in not playing clean-up for the U.S.

Rosie argues that the people of Iraq deserve the help. This is true- they do. The Americans appear to be making a hash of it, judging by, say, Riverbend's account of her experiences. The question is whether the people of Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or any number of other potential U.S. targets for invasion deserve that, and the jury is most assuredly still out on that one. If the U.S. can be confident that the U.N. will come in to administrate (and most importantly fund) it's adventures, it has little to no reason not to put the neo-con's plans into action- it's politically and financially covered, and the costs to the U.S. itself can be easily backloaded until after Bush's second term. Foreign governments need to operate with the knowledge that Bush may get a second term, and has demonstrated that he's willing to tie any and all foreign adventures to the nebulous "war on terror" in order to get the American people onside. They can't afford this any more than America can, and certainly can't afford the instability that it will create in their regions and (in many cases) in their own populations.

(Rosie argues that the biggest and most important contributions would be from "India, Pakistan, and Turkey"- precisely the countries with the most to lose from inflamed Muslim anger. Just because it didn't happen for Saddam doesn't mean it won't- Saddam was a secularist running a divided country; Saudi or Iran would be an entirely different story.)

Honestly, though, I think she knows her argument is ludicrous:

It would have been far more preferable if Washington had gone to the U.N. in May, hard on the heels of its successful invasion, when Iraqi crowds were still cheering the troops' entry into Baghdad. That moment, when it appeared the U.S. didn't need the U.N., would have been the optimum time for multinationalizing the venture.

But potential allies squeezing America now for reasons vain and craven does no one any good and does Iraq a great deal of harm.
Rosie, the fact that they didn't do so has everything to do with this. When they thought it would be a cakewalk, everybody and his dog proclaimed the death of the U.N. Now that things are rougher, they come back to wheedle for money and help? I know what my response would be, and it would sure as hell not be overly diplomatic. The ambassador from "freedom" probably has loads to say about that. If the U.N. caves now, they're toadies- a rubber-stamp for the U.S. If they hold firm, however, then the modern necessity of reconstruction has just given the U.N. very real power. That's important, in the long run, and if the Iraqi people suffer because the U.S. put the U.N. in this position, it's on nobody's head but Bush.

Hate to remind people, but responsibility is kind of supposed to be his job.

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