(UN)real View Of The World

For some reason, the left loves the United Nations. Most likely it stems from their dislike and/or distrust of the United States. Power Line captures some of this from Dana Priest and Robin Wright, two reporters from the Washington Post on “Meet the Press.”

Dana Priest and Robin Wright, presented their preferred approach to coping with the insurgency in Iraq. Under this approach, the soon-to-be new Iraqi government would go to the U.N., present itself as the elected representatives of the nation of Iraq, and ask for U.N. assistance in maintaining order. At the same time, the U.S. would agree to let the U.N. take over and would play only whatever small role in the defense of Iraq the U.N. deemed appropriate. With the U.S. out of the way, the insurgents would lose their status as a heroic resistance and the situation might materially improve. Priest and Wright call this approach “realist,” on the grounds that it has been mooted by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, who belong to the realist school of foreign policy.

When I read that, I was reminded of a piece a read a good while back at the Weekly Standard. Though reporters do not like to report on it, we should be reminded what U.N. control and “help” means for the civilians the UN purports to help.

Along with the U.N., the European Union (E.U.) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) made up the “Four Pillars” charged with the healing of Kosovo: The U.N. handled the First Pillar, police and justice, and the second, civil administration, while the E.U. took charge of economic reform, and the OSCE handled democratization and the formation of institutions.

The result has been a wholesale disaster, which, if it can serve for anything, must be taken as a textbook illustration of how not to proceed in postwar Iraq. The acronym UNMIK closely resembles the Albanian word anmik, which happens to mean enemy, and it was not long before this linguistic parallelism became a source of grim humor among Kosovar Albanians. Today, the leading Kosovar journalists fill their newspapers with commentaries on the bitter lessons of “reconstruction” by the U.N., the E.U., the OSCE, and their handmaiden, the “humanitarian mafia.”

. . . .

Recalling the socialist past of Tito’s Yugoslavia, Surroi dubs the postwar regime in Kosovo “UNMIK socialism.” After NATO’s intervention, the U.N. did everything possible to maintain or restore the positions of former socialist bureaucrats. Nor was restitution of private property seized under the Nazis, Communists, or the Milosevic regime ever considered. When U.N. and USAID officials cooperated to draft a regulation on privatization, Kosovar experts objected that its principal effect would be to reaffirm state ownership of nationalized property rather than to restore private property rights. The website of the Kosovo Trust Agency, the body overseeing privatization, states, “The KTA has been established to preserve or enhance the value, viability, and corporate governance of socially owned and public enterprises in Kosovo.”

UNMIK socialism dispenses with even the deficient standards of auditing and accounting that existed under the old Yugoslav system. Writes Surroi, “Millions and millions of deutsche marks went from one hand to the other in the guise of rents or incomes of enterprises, and not one pfennig was ever placed in a Kosovo budget account. During three years, hundreds of millions of deutsche marks have gone from one pocket to the other without the slightest exercise of public oversight. In Kosovo, there are institutionalized opportunities for theft and corruption. Meanwhile, there are no opportunities for enterprises to function and new jobs to be created.”

The internationals also have an unfortunate collective culture. Most of them sign three-month contracts, and can’t wait to get away. Internationals do not learn the local languages. They do quickly acquire boyfriends and girlfriends from among the local populace, but they otherwise fear the natives, and tend to stay locked up in their compounds, driving around in large vehicles while local people walk. At worst, they introduce sexual exploitation in the form of prostitution; in Kosovo, Moldovan and other impoverished women were imported for this purpose. If pleasant vacation spots are handy–like Dubrovnik for those stationed in Bosnia, or Greece for those in Kosovo–the internationals spend as much time there as they can.

“Realists” like Priest and Wright should not overestimate the abilities of the United Nations. As the Weekly Standard piece concludes,

The United States must not permit the U.N., with its terrible record in the Balkans, among the Palestinians, in Africa, in Cambodia, and elsewhere, to inflict its incompetence and neuroses on the people of Iraq. Iraq is fighting for its freedom, after the long brutalization it has endured. America the liberator must prove that we meant what we said about the freedom and prosperity of the Iraqi people–while the U.N., the E.U., and their associates preferred the status quo. Iraq deserves better–and so do we, for the sacrifices we shall have borne. The first step is to recognize what not to do in postwar Iraq. And the name of that tragedy is Kosovo.

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Erick Erickson

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