The Washington Post
reported on September 25 that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is considering "withdrawing all U.N. personnel from Iraq in response to two suicide attacks against the international body." The Post
went on to note that "Annan's top political and security advisers recommended that he shutter the mission because of fears that the United Nations will be targeted by future attacks." Prior to Thursday's announcement the UN had already ordered "a drastic reduction" in the wake of the terrorist attack on its headquarters "of its remaining 400 international staff to a ceiling of 50 because of continuing security concerns," according to the Associated Press
This hardly sounds like an organization that is ready to play a "vital role" in Iraq. An ignominious UN withdrawal sends the right message to every terrorist group that thrives on irresolute behavior: Attack and they will flee. In contrast to the UN's tuck and run strategy, President Bush made it clear during his recent address to the General Assembly that "These killers are at war with the Iraqi people...and they will be defeated," not appeased.
President Bush wants to ensure that American soldiers do not find themselves back in Iraq in five to 10 years due to internal circumstances that can be remedied today. He understands - unlike Kofi Annan & Co. -- that a premature and ill-prepared withdrawal will make a return trip to Iraq all the more likely in the future.
The administration's sensible approach, however, is being lambasted by the president's critics on the left who continue to call for a clear "exit strategy." The New York Times tried to illustrate recently that Americans were becoming "increasingly anxious about the war effort and worried that the United States may be trapped in an adventure from which there is no evident exit."
The contention that the United States is "trapped" is a dangerous polemic that will have serious consequences for U.S. national security if it prompts the American people to demand from the administration a set of expeditious policies that place the future of Iraq in the hands of a less competent authority such as the United Nations. President Bush's strategy in Iraq is not a recipe for endless "adventure," as his critics claim, but rather it aims to build a stable, prosperous, free and democratic Iraq now so the United States military will not have to return to Iraq under equally - if not more -- dangerous conditions in the future.
One more point, the War on Terror will suffer if a new UN resolution is passed that grants this feckless world body expanded authority. On Aug. 21, Fayssal Mekdad, Syria's deputy ambassador announced: "There is one thing I'm sure of. Arab nations will not send troops to Iraq under a foreign occupation."
Mr. Mekdad's statement was meant as a warning to those who would prefer not to turn over more authority to the United Nations. But the last thing President Bush should push the Security Council to do is pass a resolution that would permit troops from Syria, Egypt, Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq. It is appealing prima facie to have local Arab troops on the ground who can communicate culturally and rhetorically with Iraqis, but such a concession would undermine a basic tenet of President Bush's policy vis-a-vis the War on Terror.
Moreover, a new UN resolution at this time will not satisfy those who are currently attacking American soldiers and their allies. Radical Islamists and Saddam loyalists make no distinction between the United Nations and the United States. A letter attributed to al-Qaeda following the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Iraq read in part: "It [the United Nations] is nothing more than a hostage to the will of the Bush administration and Zionist clique. ... The United Nations will remain in Iraq to bestow legitimacy on the United States and lighten its economic burden."
During his address to the nation on September 7, President Bush identified Iraq as the "central front" in the fight against terrorism and proffered that "The Middle East will either become a place of progress and peace, or it will be an exporter of violence and terror." As such, the War on Terror and the fight for democracy, tolerance and freedom in Iraq will not prevail if representatives from despotic or openly anti-American regimes are allowed to participate in the rebuilding of Iraq. They will bring with them an anti-American, anti-democratic, pro-terrorist agenda that will serve only the interests of their masters and not those of Iraq or the United States.