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Faith-based foreign policy

What's the difference between Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and an effective United Nations? There's evidence that the first two exist.

The New York Times can proclaim that the Spanish vote is a message to the Bush administration:

Mr. Zapatero now has an opportunity to use his new mandate to pressure Washington to seek U.N. help. The Bush administration has already learned it needs the United Nations.
Uh, yeah, whatever. What is it with liberals and the United Nations? I will concede that it would do the Iraqi rebuilding effort some good in terms of garnering European support if the United Nations were in charge in Iraq. And if that -- garnering European support -- were our goal, then the Times would be right to call for Bush to take note of that fact.

On the other hand, if our goal is actually to accomplish something in Iraq -- and I would suggest that it is -- then perhaps we need to stop fetishizing the "international community", and ask what good it can do. And its track record is quite poor, as this article about Bosnia demonstrates. A decade after the end of the Bosnian campaign, the country is still ethnically divided -- extensively:

MOSTAR, Bosnia and Herzegovina Costly and redundant as it may seem, this city has two sets of nearly everything: hospitals, universities, primary schools, public transportation, even waste disposal services.

"Everything is duplicated because there are two peoples," explained Zoran Knezovic, the proud manager of the Zrinjski soccer team, made up almost entirely of ethnic Croats. Mostar also has another soccer team, Velez, which is mostly Muslim.

And it's being run as a dictatorship -- with the international community, not local leaders, as dictators.
Such criticism has been hard to deflect. Mostar's politicians, most of whom opposed the decrees, are elected, Bosnians and others point out, whereas Lord Ashdown is appointed by foreigners.
Contrast that with the non-UN-run Iraq, where a multiethnic Iraqi governing council is in place, and plans are set to hand over power to an Iraqi government in the near future. Of course, Iraq has a long way to go, and we don't know how things will turn out. But at least it appears to be moving in the right direction -- while the UN bureaucracy in Bosnia appears to be doing what UN bureaucracies always appear to do: perpetuating itself by not solving anything.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 16, 2004 10:28 AM.

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