THE WEATHERS REPORT 

Why Bush should apologize to the United Nations and ask for help.

TIME TO EAT CROW “Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?” -President George W. Bush, September 12, 2002 “We must come together to deal with this crisis or it tends to make the United Nations somewhat irrelevant.” Secretary of State Colin Powell, September 13, 2002 “Now, at some point [the United Nations] has to ask how does it feel about that--does it want to be irrelevant? . . .” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, September 18, 2002 “. . . [T]he president cannot imagine that the United Nations wants to make itself irrelevant.” Presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer, October 3, 2002. ______________________________________________________________________________ “We’ve got to have more international participation in the international coalition force.” General John P. Abizaid, top American commander for Iraq, August 28, 2003 ______________________________________________________________________________ Oh, how it must stick in Rummy’s wrinkled craw, hearing his own top general tell everybody who will listen, “Look, we need help from the rest of the world.” A year ago, the neocons in the White House could not have been more eager to declare the United Nations “irrelevant” because it wouldn’t follow our marching orders on Iraq. The president’s advisors were practically begging him to go it alone, to show the rest of the world we didn’t need it. But now our own commanders are begging for something else: more “international participation” to fix the mess Bush, Rice and Rummy have created in Iraq. He won’t say so out loud, but you can bet General Abizaid would love to have in the field beside him right now a couple of divisions from “Old” Europe’s Germany and France. Eat crow, Donald Rumsfeld. Sorry, I can’t help it. Sometimes saying, “We told you so” to an arrogant twit is just too tempting. Lately the Bush administration, finally heeding the advice of its only true internationalist, Colin Powell, has been skulking around the back rooms of the U.N. lobbying for a Security Council resolution that would send troops from other countries to Iraq to take some of the pressure off our own overburdened soldiers. Of course, we still want full military control over any forces that come in. And we’re not promising to give anybody else--especially them damn Frenchies!--any say in how Iraq is run or where the reconstruction money is going. (In case you didn’t know, it’s going to Halliburton and Bechtel--big Republican contributors. Duh!) Still, control issues aside, we’re asking the U.N. for military help. Oh, yes, and the Bush administration is also calling now for an “international donors conference” in Madrid in late October, hoping to persuade the nations of the United Nations to raise money to help pay for Bush’s little exercise in shock and awe. I love that: “international donors conference.” Sounds like folks who give blood. Which is pretty much what the Bushites want the nations of the U.N. to do: put their young men’s bodies on the line to draw some of the fire from ours. The hawks of hubris decided last spring that we could go it alone. The war would be over fast, and the Iraqis would welcome our troops with flowers. Well, the war was declared over fast, back in May, by Mr. Bush himself. But apparently Saddam’s boys weren’t paying attention, and the Islamic militants in that part of the world saw that Iraq had become a barrel in which American fish were now conveniently swimming, practically asking to be shot. Now more American soldiers have been killed since the president’s declaration of victory than were killed in the “war” itself. Shock and awe? Aw, shucks. The war-mongers are learning a difficult lesson: Flowers are not what blossom from grenade-launchers. But it does no good just to bash Bush. People are still dying in Iraq--our people and theirs (85 of theirs on August 29 alone, in a Shiite mosque)--and it needs to stop. So here’s what Bush should do now:
  • First, he should go to France and Germany personally and apologize in speeches to their legislatures.
  • Second, he should deliver a speech to the United Nations, admitting he was wrong to go it alone in Iraq and requesting that the U.N. organize a multinational force of at least 30,000 soldiers who will take over security operations in Baghdad and in the major cities where Saddam’s Sunnis are not most prominent, defusing some of the growing anti-American hatred. (Americans can continue to hunt for Saddam in Sunni-dominated Tikrit, where hatred will thrive anyway.) He should also ask for U.N. help in reconstructing Iraq’s social infrastructure--a task the organization has proved itself well-suited for in the past.
  • Third, he should request that such a bail-out-the-U.S. resolution be proposed in the security council by France, Russia and Germany, so it has a decent chance to pass. The proposal should put the multinational military force jointly under the control of an American general and a Norwegian general. Everyone seems to trust the Norwegians, the most loyal supporters of the U.N. for decades and already part of the U.S. coalition in Iraq. Norway’s defense minister, Kristin Krohn Devold, even uses language Rumsfeld can understand when explaining her country’s military availability: “We want to be relevant,” she told The New York Times recently.
  • Fourth, Bush should call U.N. weapons inspectors--citing Hans Blix by name, if necessary--back into Iraq to look for the unconventional weapons Bush and Blair have claimed were there. Why? Because if American special ops forces find such weapons now, who will believe they didn’t plant them?
  • Fifth, Bush must promise to share the profits of Iraqi reconstruction with businesses from the nations sending the multinational force, even if it means a little less money in his 2004 campaign war chest from Halliburton and Bechtel. And when Iraqi oil starts to flow again, other nations should be free to make deals for it.
  • And sixth, Bush should rescind his massive tax cut for the rich, so our children and grandchildren aren’t bankrupted by this billions-per-year war. Presidential political hack Karl Rove should advise his boss that it’s in Bush’s own best interests to take such a path, for history tells us that a Republican president voted out of office is of little use. So I ask you, Mr. Bush: Do you want to make yourself irrelevant?
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