U.S. Should Lead in Forging Postwar Iraq

America’s European "friends" deserve an award for the stupidest idea of the century: putting the United Nations in charge of postwar Iraq.

The coalition of the uncooperative-namely, France, Germany and Russia-has unsurprisingly pushed for the UN to have a "central role" in rebuilding Iraq’s political and economic infrastructure. Even Great Britain, who actually showed up for the war of liberation, favors a larger UN role than does the United States.

Of course, the no-shows strongly support U.S. and British troops’ staying on and providing security in post-Saddam Iraq. It will have been primarily American and British blood and treasure that paid for Iraqi freedom.

So, while we’re still there, why not have us take the physical risks during the dangerous transition period while the world’s professional diplomats sip coffee, draw and redraw maps, charts and documents, and figure out how to drop liberty and democracy on a badly broken state?

These big believers in the United Nations make perfect, Wilsonian "little red hens." Their response to President Bush’s calls of "who will help me" at every stage leading up to and through combat with Saddam Hussein’s regime has been, "Not I." But now, with victory near, these friends all want their UN delegates to get a slice of the bread President Bush has prepared.

The Bush Administration must insist that the United States and "coalition of the willing" nations play "the leading role," as Secretary of State Colin Powell has said, in winning the peace in Iraq. The President might recall Ronald Reagan’s New Hampshire primary performance when he stood firm. He had paid for that microphone, Reagan said at that forum, and he darn well wasn’t about to relinquish it.

The United States, Britain and other coalition members must not only secure Iraq after the war. We should determine how to structure the new Iraqi government, the role of Iraqi exiles, the rate of transition of authority and meanwhile ensure as smooth, peaceful operations of crucial day-to-day functions as possible.

A lot of the details cannot be predetermined. But National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice stated the administration’s goal, which is the right one: "We will leave Iraq in the hands of Iraqis as quickly as possible."

After all, one can only keep a straight face answering this question one way: Who can accomplish the goal of establishing a new, democratic government in Iraq, the United States or the United Nations?

The UN is a farce to any objective thinker. It is simply not up to the job our European friends would hand it. As George Will and others have suggested, the United Nations has rendered itself irrelevant.

The UN is little more than Woodrow Wilson’s pipe dream. Ludicrously, it elevates bureaucrats from Third World dregs that can hardly govern themselves to pseudo-government positions.

Jay Leno couldn’t come up with a joke as good as putting Libya in charge of human rights and Saddam’s Iraq in charge of disarmament. But that’s just what the geniuses at the UN did.

Who in his right mind would put such nonentities as Cameroon, Mexico and Angola on the UN Security Council? But there they sit.

The UN track record on "nation-building" and "peace-keeping?" Pathetic. Remember Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, East Timor?

And thank God President Bush now sits in the White House. His skepticism toward ill-defined "nation-building" guarantees we won’t end up in some Clintonian morass with no clear goal, no clear plan, no clear understanding of what America’s military is for and no core belief in America’s goodness and decency.

The Bush administration has waged war skillfully. If we want the job finished right, then this President should wage the peace in Iraq. If we leave it to the UN Keystone Kops, then American troops could find themselves back in Iraq in 10 more years for Gulf War III.