U.N. presence in Iraq necessary for success

Last week the United States presented a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council requesting that the United Nations help rebuild Iraq. France and Germany criticized the resolution for not giving the United Nations enough authority and lacking a plan to return power to the Iraqis. Sunday night, President George W. Bush delivered his first national address since claiming victory in Iraq, requesting $87 billion for operations in Iraq, bringing the total war appropriations to $166 billion. That figure does not include the 287 Americans who have lost their lives.

Many, including this editorial board, have argued that unilateral American action was never the way to handle the situation. Opponents of that opinion still oppose ceding power to the United Nations because they fear it will not respect American interests. In reality, they have little to fear; the United States is the most powerful U.N. member, so in a U.N.-directed effort, American interests will merely have a little competition. In any case, previous concerns with U.N. influence are now irrelevant. Given mounting financial and human costs, the only practical way to reconstruct Iraq is with international help. Nations will not commit more resources without U.N. approval; therefore, the United States must allow the United Nations to assume some control and responsibility.

The upside to a midcourse policy change is that it makes success more likely. More resources are necessary to achieve a democratic Iraq run by Iraqis and the apprehension of men such as Saddam Hussein; these are important goals we cannot now abandon. An influx of foreign financial and military support would help immediately. More Americans would support an international effort, allowing legislators to spend American resources based on needs, instead of what will sell in upcoming elections. A U.N.-sanctioned effort will also have more support from Arab nations and, we hope, the Iraqi people. In time, an authority with more international credibility combined with progress toward the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty may lower the violence. A U.N. presence in Iraq is the best, and possibly the only, way to achieve what we set out to do.