NEW YORK - Faced with an unwinnable
five-year war in Iraq, the United States may be
looking toward the United Nations to extricate it
from the growing military quagmire, according to
diplomats and political analysts.
the war turning out to be a huge political
liability for the ruling Republican Party at the
upcoming elections in November [next year]," an
Asian diplomat said, "it is a safe guess the White
House may eventually dump
Iraq on the United Nations."
General Ban Ki-moon, who appears more pliable to
the administration of President George W Bush than
was his predecessor Kofi Annan, told news
reporters in Baghdad in March that he was
considering "increasing" the UN's presence in Iraq
as the political and military situation in the
"The United Nations has
been actively participating and helping Iraqi
people through various means - humanitarian,
economic and political facilitation," Ban said,
just after he instinctively ducked when an
explosion shook Baghdad's Green Zone during a
televised news conference with Iraqi Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
He also said that
UN activities "have been somewhat constrained,
largely because of the situation on the ground".
The United Nations downsized its
operations in Iraq after a bomb explosion in
August 2003 when 22 died, including UN special
envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. Currently, most UN
staffers operate out of Cyprus or Jordan.
Last month, a London newspaper quoted an
unnamed former official of the Bush administration
as saying that the White House may opt gradually
to hand over many of the current US
responsibilities to the international community,
including "an expanded UN involvement in
overseeing Iraq's full transition to a normal
Annan famously said
that the US war on Iraq was "illegal" because it
was not sanctioned by the UN Security Council. But
the current secretary general, usually
tight-lipped on sensitive political issues, has
not expressed similar views on the ongoing
Norman Solomon, executive
director of the Institute for Public Accuracy,
said it is logical that Bush would now be
interested in the UN helping out with Iraq.
"While turning Iraq into a land of
carnage, the US government has also done enormous
damage to the United Nations by violating the UN
Charter with the invasion, and then bringing the
Security Council to heel as an endorser of the
occupation," he said.
"After creating and
stoking a bloody disaster of huge proportions -
and after strong-arming, undermining and ignoring
the United Nations as convenient - the White House
is now seeking UN help in shouldering future
responsibility and blame for the continuation of
illegitimate and catastrophic military
intervention in Iraq," said Solomon, author of
War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep
Spinning Us to Death.
contributing editor at the Washington-based Middle
East Report, said: "I do not know how the
situation in Iraq will develop in the months and
years to come, but with the increasingly firm
predictions of a US exit combined with
disintegration/partition of Iraq, it has at one
level clear echoes of the situation in Palestine
during the late 1940s."
In both cases, he
said, "an imperial power [Britain in Palestine,
the United States in Iraq] ended up unable to
sustain occupation designed as a grand strategic
project on account of opposition from native
insurgencies, and increasingly as the years went
by, insurgencies by their proteges".
1947, Britain ended up referring the Palestine
question to the United Nations, which recommended
its partition and thereby laid the groundwork for
what are now six decades of conflict and four of
"It is unclear whether
the United States would do [the] same in 2007, and
if it indeed does so, how the United Nations will
react," Rabbani said.
nevertheless sincerely hope the United Nations
would, if faced with such an eventuality, take
stock of its indispensable contribution to
creation of the Arab-Israeli conflict and failure
to resolve it since the middle of the 20th century
and not repeat its mistakes in Iraq," he said.
Such a situation, he argued, "would, I
believe, create an even more extensive catastrophe
than has been the case in Palestine/Israel since
Rabbani said the UN Security
Council's refusal to endorse the 2003 US war on
Iraq can be said to offer hopeful signs in this
"Widespread opposition among UN
staff to becoming instruments of US policy, which
will increase in ways never experienced in the
1940s, should such a scenario come to pass, also
provide cause for optimism.
I don't really see a possibility that Washington
will permit the United Nations to play a genuinely
autonomous role in seeking to resolve the Iraqi
Solomon of the Institute for
Public Accuracy said that as long as the US
government continues with its policy of making war
on Iraq, the United Nations can do little to
mitigate the suffering there.
On the other
hand, if Washington were to end all of the
Pentagon's activities in Iraq - and if the US and
British governments were to recuse themselves from
any and all future UN decisions and actions
related to Iraq - the United Nations could
potentially play a very constructive role, he
"The horrible truth is that the US
government is committed to war-keeping - not
peacekeeping - in Iraq," Solomon said.
long as that is the case, he said, Washington's
efforts to draw the United Nations into a US war
can only further discredit the UN to the extent
that the Security Council agrees to go along with
"Other than providing
whatever humanitarian aid is feasible under these
dire circumstances, the only proper UN role would
be to strongly oppose the US occupation of Iraq,"