Empty Days

Wednesday, April 21, 2004



Iraq and UN

As per reports from Russian press (via Arab tv's) Fallujah is again being bombed - back to war. Remains to see what happens in Najaf. In the meantime Basra has 3 police stations blown-up with scores of dead and wounded. Reuter says British forces couldn't immediately approach two of the stations as they were stoned away from the scene :-0

What's going on? As always, nobody really knows.

Meantime, an internal CPA memo released to full light provoked great interest - not because of what it had to say (read it and you shall see) but because nobody ever hears what's going on inside the CPA exactly. In any case, it gives a pretty good idea of what CPA people think - and it's not terribly encouraging.

Ironically, all the relevant names of IGC members and other Iraqi power-figures are edited out, so we still don't know who is who - and are not supposed to ever find out, it would seem.

A journalist who received the memo via a "western intelligence officer" has his thoughts to offer and supplies some additional infos. The whole thing constitutes a rare peek into realities on the ground - and not just from the street perspective (Iraq blogs and such).

***

Meantime there is a really big scandal occuring regarding investigation of UN's oil-for-food program during imbargo on Iraq - and the startling highest-level corruption that it entailed. That's pretty impressive, mind you. I still have a lot of respect for middle-level officials from UN who actually accomplish things on the ground, but the top ranks and the institutional corruption stink to high heaven and it's time it came to full light. Because that's how you get to reform something - you bring out all the stink and it provokes an explosion. It's extremely hard to reform the UN - because it's the epicenter of state-level corruption for all the states involved. And it can't really police itself since there is no one above that collection of states. USA says it's time to disband UN altogether and it wants properly nothing to do with it. I doubt this posturing will resolve the problem - given that the USA itself is hardly above that sort of top-level corruption. Basically, I have to wonder what the fuck can be done. The brand EU in Bruxelles is itself a brand-new hotbed of corruption and has been exposed a number of times already. I wonder what happens to NATO with all of this - it's hard to imagine it is white as lily by comparison.

On the other hand, if the USA dropped UN completely, it would probably force the UN to reorganize under a purely European command. In that case I have to wonder what would become of NATO. As was shown time and time again, NATO constitutes the effective military backing of UN, and NATO is really controlled by the US. Which is why UN is always inefficient when US decides not to back whatever UN tries to do here and there. Rwanda or the Balkans, for example - Europeans seemed either totally unwilling or totally unable to do anything on their own until the US said "let's do it" (and it took a while).

The curious fact is that it's not so easy to figure out which it was: unwilling or unable. Or both.

Back in the Cold War days, UN was de facto the political boxing-ground for various hit-and-run diplomatic battles between the two camps. It was already deeply and profoundly corrupt back then - because of its nature as a political basketball. Now there is only one camp and by the nature of things it is not all one anymore. European Union has emerged after the end of Cold War - as the other camp. And it's not terribly organized as yet - because it lacks a clear enemy it can rally against. So far the anti-gravity force-field is provided by the USA with its lone super-power status. And the basketball is now the Middle-East.

So the question is really this: will Europe be able to organize itself into a cohesive political and military force and hijack UN as its power tool (as it's been trying to do most recently), or will the USA be able to bring UN back under its total control? No clear answers so far.

***

Of course US-only partisans will use this scandal to claim once again that UN is just totally not needed in Iraq. Heh. If it were so, Bush would certainly not be clamoring for UN mediation. If this guy could truly dispense with UN, he'd do so. But he can't. Because a US-only approach hasn't worked so far - and even failed pretty badly, and we are in the process of seeing it fail under our own very eyes.





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