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Catfish and Cod
Monday, May 24, 2004
Oh no! Undue accumulation of power!
(Link path: Yahoo/Reuters)

You know, I bash the Right sometimes for seeing "media bias" where there isn't any. But there are some media that are biased, and European media tend to be worse at that than others. The Beeb's bias was exposed when its man-on-the-scene took Baghdad Bob's pronouncements as straight news during the invasion. The Mirror's was made evident by its eagerness to swallow the British soldier abuse hoax.

Now here's a Reuters release on the newest UN resolution:

Iraq Resolution Gives Wide Powers to U.S. Forces

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States on Monday asked for U.N. endorsement of a hand-over of power to an interim government in Iraq (news - web sites) but proposed the U.S. force there could "take all measures" to keep order and set no date for it to leave.

Gasp! You mean they didn't provide the enemy with the schedule they needed to set up their coup? How could you do that? And you actually authorized force? Used by Americans? Don't you know the only legal military actions are those undertaken by peacekeepers, and then only when they don't have the authority to blow their own noses without explicit orders from New York?

Okay, sarcasm off. Seriously, what other possibility could there be? Unless the other powers of the world want to take responsibility for Iraqi stability, there has to be a US presence in Iraq. And unless you want that force to be completely pointless, you have to give it authorization to shoot.

And unless you want to give terrorists, anarchists, mafiosos, and other assorted "bad guys" a light at the end of the tunnel, you don't broadcast the date of your departure, either. You leave when you feel you can leave without the place collapsing behind you.

Look, not only does the draft mandate a yearly review, the Iraqi government can request review (in other words, ask us to leave) at any time. And this is only the first draft. Do you really think the UN is going to pass this resolution as is? You never start a negotiation by giving the other side what it wants!

What Reuters is really concerned about, but won't talk about, is that the US will continue to be in effective occupation of Iraq, and that we will control the Iraqi government. As if setting a date of departure or restricting troop powers in a UN resolution would stop such a thing! The real negotiation is over what powers the Americans will have over Iraqis in a sovereign yet foreign-occupied Iraq. That's the real issue; if the diplomats want guarantees about undue influence, they ought to discuss such things directly.

This raises another point. Isn't anyone worried about the US - Iraq relationship being spelled out by a UN resolution? If Iraq really is going to be sovereign, shouldn't it make its own decisions about its relationship with ths US?

Okay, okay, Iraq isn't going to be fully sovereign yet. The same principles that justified going to war (nations have the right to defend the law despite UN deadlocking, and sovereignty is not absolute) also justify the UN acting in loco parentis while the Iraqis are not fully sovereign. But how far does this go? How much right does the rest of the world -- the US or anyone else -- have to go mucking about in what are, after all, Iraqi affairs?

Something tells me that Iraqis are not happy with the French, or Russians, or Chileans, deciding what their rights and duties vis-a-vis the Coalition are any more than they're happy having Americans do it. Iraqis should be running Iraq, they say. And so they should; but how do we get to that point? And what precedent does this set for the future?

These are not easy questions, and pat answers such as UN hegemony or Pax Americana will not solve the problems raised.

And it certainly doesn't help to have Reuters be clearly skeptical of proposals that are simply practical in nature.