The UN Mirage In Iraq

Once again, the United Nations Security Council is letting itself be turned into a tool of the United States.

On August 3, it voted unanimously to adopt a resolution to expand the U.N.'s role in Iraq. The U.N. is now authorized to play a bigger role in national reconciliation, regional dialogue, and humanitarian assistance.

But there is much less there than meets the eye.

The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expects to send all of thirty more U.N. personnel to Iraq. But the staff union at the U.N. opposes this, and even wants those currently in Iraq to be withdrawn until the safety situation there improves.

Sounding like a mouthpiece of the Bush Administration, the Secretary-General said he would urge "Iraqi government leaders to do their own part in promoting and engaging in inclusive political dialogue."

This is the blame-Maliki first strategy, which Hillary Clinton has also signed on to.

The Secretary-General is supposed to involve himself in regional dialogue, as well, though it's difficult to imagine how he'll be able to succeed there, as Bush and Cheney are threatening to attack Iran virtually every day now.

It's also difficult to imagine how the U.N. will be able to help the security situation any. The response by Britain's U.N. ambassador, Emyr Jones Parry, was laughable. He said he hopes "the U.N. will soon be able to redeploy a contingent to Basra, where its expertise would be helpful in delivering capacity building in Iraq's southeast."

The ambassador's comment came the same day that Britain lost two more soldiers in southern Iraq, bringing its toll to 168 since the war began. Iraq is Britain's "least successful military campaign since Suez in '56," wrote Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent.

How are two dozen U.N. staffers going to make any difference in Basra, which the British are bailing from as fast as possible?

Everyone in the Security Council is leaning on thin reeds.

And rather than face the fact that Security Council has for the past three years placed its imprimatur on the U.S. and British illegal invasion and lawless occupation, the Security Council simply attaches another fig leaf.

So much so that Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, hailed the latest resolution as a bygones-be-bygones triumph.

"Without a doubt, we in the international community have had our differences with regard to Iraq," he said. "Despite these differences, we all share the same vision for Iraq's future. This forward-looking resolution . . . is an important signal that the page has turned."

Amnesty International, to its credit, noted that the resolution leaves the United States completely off the hook for its role in the human rights disaster that is Iraq today.

"The least the Security Council can do is to call on all parties concerned to halt and prevent further human rights abuses, to protect civilians, including internally displaced persons and other vulnerable groups, and to put an end to impunity," it said. It denounced not only the sectarian killings but also the "continuing detention of thousands of Iraqis without charge or trial by the U.S.-led Multinational Force and Iraqi security forces, the widespread
reports of torture, the sharp rise in the use of the death penalty, and other gross abuses."

But the Bush Administration doesn't want to put an end to impunity.

It thrives on impunity.

And the latest U.N. resolution just gives it a little more.

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

(c) 2007 The Progressive

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