Wed Apr 19th, 2006 at 08:33:50 AM EST
In today's Financial Times Zbigniew Brzezinski, Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter, presents a four point plan for US military withdrawal from Iraq and normalisation of governance there under authentic Iraqi leadership (as distinct from the Bushco imported kleptocrats).
He makes me nostalgic for the sort of principled, reasoned, forward-looking leadership on foreign affairs that the United States once offered on the world stage under its Democratic presidents.
The only omission I find surprising is that no where in the plan does he mention a role for the United Nations, the most experienced and successful hand at nation building of ruined states riven by tribal strife and impoverished by corruption. He seems to assume that the Shia, Sunni and Kurds in Iraq will magically come together to agree on internal governance as soon as a withdrawal date is agreed.
More on the plan and the curious omission of the UN below the fold.
Some extracts from Brzezinski's plan:
First, Washington should quietly ask Iraqi leaders to publicly ask the US to leave. * * *
Second, after such a public request, the US and Iraqi governments would jointly consult on a date for ending the occupation. * * *
Third, the Iraqi government - not the US - should then also call for a regional conference of Muslim states, some immediately adjoining Iraq, others more distant. . . . The Muslim neighbours and friends should be asked to help the Iraqi government establish and consolidate internal stability. * * *
Fourth, the US on leaving should convene a donors' conference of European states, Japan, China and others with an interest in a stable oil-exporting Iraq to become more directly involved in financing the restoration of the Iraqi economy.
The US needs to recognise that its intervention in Iraq is becoming part of a wider, dangerous collision between America and the Muslim world - a collision that could prove, if it becomes truly widespread, devastating to America's global position. An America in a conflict with the world of Islam as a whole will be an America with more enemies and fewer friends, an America more isolated and less secure.
The plan is good as far as it goes. I agree completely with Mr Brzezinski that Iraqi peace and prosperity requires getting US troops out of Iraq and removing the US-imposed kleptocrats from the reins of Iraqi power and control. I question, however, whether the Iraqis with Muslim support can do the job of restoring governance alone, or whether the United Nations should be invited to join in the rebuilding of Iraqi political institutions.
Perhaps Mr Brzezinski feels that the United Nations has been too deeply damaged by the Republican fueled corruption scandals (many supported by documents provided by the same Ahmad Chalabi who supplied pre-war Iraq WMD "evidence") and shrill harpings of Norm Coleman (hand chosen by Cheney to run for Minnesota's senate seat and narrowly elected following the mysterious plane crash death of Democratic Senator and Cheney nemisis Paul Wellstone).
Perhaps Mr Brzezinski believes that a significant gesture demonstrating confidence in and recognising Muslim authority for Middle East peace and prosperity will heal the rift between America and Islam caused by five years of hate speech and warmongering, and that sufficient examples of good governance now exist in neighbouring states to light the way for Iraq.
Perhaps Mr Brzezinski feels that the United Nations is incapable of acting quickly or independently with the Republicans and John Bolton waging war on the UN from without and within.
These would be sensible views, but even so I would like to see the principal tenet of a Democratic foreign policy being the restoration of the leadership role of the United Nations as an arbiter of international conflicts, international law and domestic reconstruction of post-war states. Restoration of the United Nations would do much to heal the nearly global perception of the United States as a belligerent, lawless, unilateral threat to world order established by 5 years of Bushco mis-rule. More than that it would provide better security for America going forward as the global balance of economic and military might shifts ever Eastward toward Middle East and Asian states and their burgeoning populations.
I find the omission of even a mention of the United Nations as having a role to play in restoring Iraqi sovereignty and restraining future US (or other nations') interference both strange and ominous. Weakening the institutions of international mediation has left the world and Americans less secure, and restoring their authority needs to become a policy priority sooner rather than later.