{ An Autopsy of Democracy }

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Let's make the U.N. "relevant" again.

It's time to save face in Iraq. The pitfalls of launching an unprovoked, unilateral preemptive attack based on false premises and dubious "intelligence" are now more abundantly clear than ever. In your recent press conference I heard you speak an honest statement for the first time that I can recall: While surely the Iraqi people are glad Saddam is gone, they are not happy that we are occupying their country. (You might have added that they were not happy to have their ancient and holy country bombed and destroyed, then ransacked [much of the most precious and ancient art in the world from the dawn of civilization--probably worth more than even the oil], while only the oil wells were protected.) Nor should they be.

The worst-case-scenario has come to pass: Sunnis and Shiites have essentially united under the principle of Arab/Iraqi nationalism to oppose the U.S. occupation by any means necessary. The fact that they perceive--rightly or wrongly--that you are no better than Saddam Hussein ought to give you great pause and deep concern.

What purpose can continued military occupation possbily serve? Certainly not "freedom" and "democracy" for the Iraqis; for clearly the occupation and U.S.-appointed governing council is the direct opposite of what the Iraqi people want.

And if you genuinely believe that "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is a "theater" in the "War on Terror," then I think, if you are sane, you must admit that we are losing that "war" and that this "battle" was a dire mistake. We're creating enemies faster than we can kill them, and dramatically increasing the likelihood of more "terrorist" attacks.

I believe that this is as much a turning point as was the decision to invade Iraq. There is still an opportunity to demonstrate, with action as well as words, that the United States is not the aggressive, imperialist, self-serving rogue state that most of the world (rightly) perceives us to be. Despite your having deemed the most important organization in history as "irrelevant," there is still time to cease this open disdain for the U.N. and for international law. By admitting our mistakes, asking for forgiveness, withdrawing, and vowing not to pursue any further such actions without U.N. authorization, we could be a world leader rather than a world tyrant.

I am not naive enough to believe that you will do this. However, you might at least attempt to regain the respect of the international community by deferring to the U.N.--which, while it might not be seen in a completely favorable light by the Iraqis, at least is not despised by them.




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