POST-WAR IRAQ: The New York Times reports that the US is planning to set up a civilian administration under military command to immediately take control of Iraq once the fighting cools. Additionally, this civilian authority will be under the sole control of the US (what about the UK?), and there will be no initial role for the UN.
Bypassing the United Nations and setting up an American civilian peacekeeping administration under the military, however temporary, is a huge break from recent tradition and a denial of one of the United Nations' central roles since the end of the cold war.
You can imagine how I feel about this. Everything the UN touches becomes twisted and malignant, generally to the detriment of the US. So I say: screw 'em. According to Fox News, France and Russia don't want the UN to have any role in post-war Iraq, because they feel that UN involvement would serve to "legitimize" the war that they so recently opposed.
This Fox News headline says "Powell: France Has Role in Post-War Iraq", but that is misleading. What Powell means is clear from a quote in the article:
On postwar Iraq, French President Jacques Chirac also has thrown up roadblocks, threatening to veto in the United Nations any attempt to "legitimatize the military intervention" and "give the belligerents the power to administer Iraq."
Powell made clear Chirac's objections would not deter the U.S. drive, which British Prime Minister Tony Blair is due to take up with President Bush in their talks here and at Camp David beginning Wednesday.
Still, Powell said, France is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and so anything done through the council on administering Iraq would require France's support.
"Hopefully, France will play a helpful role," he said.
"What we need to do now is to recognize the fact that this regime is finished," Powell said of the government in Baghdad. "It will be removed, and then how do we get together to quickly to help the people of Iraq to a better life."
France's role, then, is to shut up and let us do our job. The more they complain, the more they undermine the remaining usefulness of the UN. It's already clear that the UN is powerless to speak on issues of war and peace; if France eliminates the UN's role as a charity organization as well, what will be left of it?