Bush must be humble to get U.N. involved

After President George W. Bush’s address to the United Nations on Sept. 23, it is clear the president wishes to transfer some of the burden of Iraqi reconstruction to other nations. However, he has not provided any details or deadlines – to the frustration of many countries in the United Nations – and has found himself at odds with Ahmad Chalabi and the appointed Iraqi governing council. His appeal for aid comes without any mention of reciprocal compromises – whether that is providing a timetable for transferring power or a definitive plan for how to achieve the handover.

Bush failed to acknowledge the validity of the disagreement with the United States’ pre-emptive strike. Nor did the president address international concerns about unilateral pre-emption – raised by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan just before Bush spoke. Instead, the president portrayed the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq as a necessary decision, while simultaneously appealing for aid from nations opposed to the war. This sends the message that the United States is the foremost decision-maker for the planet and the United Nations can either assist in the aftermath of the United States’ decisions or become a useless assembly in the face of U.S. power.

The predictable French response and resolution drafted before Bush’s speech is also problematic. They call for a swift transfer of power in Iraq to the fledgling governing council, a move with which Chalabi – who recently sent dignitaries to France – agrees. The United States, quite rightly, feels that without instilled and understood means of democratic representation established in Iraq, democracy will fail.

Ultimately, U.N. involvement is crucial, which might require an apology from Bush for ignoring its importance. If the United States wishes for a democratic Iraq – which it undoubtedly does – an international consensus must occur. In addition, the calls for handing over power to Chalabi and the Iraqi council before democracy is in place must be addressed openly, devoid of self-defeating self-righteousness.