Monday, April 19, 2004

Are UN Or Are You Out?

This morning, Mr. Yglesias is arguing that sending the Marines into Fallujah might not be the best way to deal with that particular insurgency; even if the Marines are sure to give much more than they take in regards to casualties.

More important, they're Marines, not magicians. They can't make people like us, and they can't make Fallujans care more about procedural fairness than about their inevitably lowered status under the new regime.

He also makes this very good point:

Nor are Marines cops, well-trained to patrol the streets indefinitely maintaining order and looking out for insurgents who just put down their guns temporarily but never surrendered. And even if they were cops, think about this. Suppose your city was patrolled by a bunch of policemen who practiced a strange religion and didn't speak your language. The DC cops who patrol Columbia Heights make a reasonably comprehensive effort to get Spanish-speakers on the scene when they're dealing with folks (be they suspects or victims) who don't know English, and there's still all sorts of trouble.

This is the crux of the problem in Iraq right now, and it is precisely why John Kerry's call for turning the country over to UN control is spot-on. Along with UN involvement comes additional troops from Muslim countries. And while these troops may not convince the Iraqis to like us, they stand a far better chance of communicating our sincere intentions, to leave behind a democratically elected government, than does a group of well-armed Marines. The mere sight of additional soldiers of any nationality would affirm our commitment to scale back US military presence.

As to why the UN may heighten involvement for Kerry, but not Bush: simple. John Kerry did not devote the entire pre-war period to marginalizing the organization and declaring it "irrelevant," only to return months later and ask for assistance without the slightest hint of contrition.

Besides, the rift between Bush and the UN began not with Iraq, but when Bush rode into office talking like a cross between an Atari game and a post-WWI isolationist...

(The game screen shots are from Missile Command, by the way)