The war in Iraq will be difficult, peace will be easy' was the premise; but with the latest developments, including plans for an interim Iraqi government being put on hold and ethnic killings between Kurds and Arabs in Kirkuk on an upward curve, some US lawmakers are beginning to wonder whether it might be the other way around.
The Bush administration ignored UN Security Council reservations before launching its pre-emptive war against Saddam Hussein. "The organisation is moribund, nothing but a talking shop," Bush hawks continually stressed in the run-up to the first US air strike. But now, having overcome the Republican Guard the administration is going back to the UN for help in managing the peace. Iraq's ethnic and political divisions are far more of a handful than administration hawks had envisioned. Even the country's oil industry--considered a panacea for all the destruction caused by war--is problematical; some oil industry executives in Texas going as far as to say that Iraq's oil is too hot to handle.
"We thought we would have the inside track to the world's second largest reserves of crude and yet here we are only one month after the war's end having to wait in line with the French and the Russians because the White House has suddenly had a reality check," a senior US oil executive complained. "Iraq seems virtually ungovernable without the imposition of martial law," he added.
In late May the United States, Britain and a tag-along Spain finally received the Security Council's approval for the lifting of sanctions on Iraq. This after some 90 modifications had been made to the original draft that US Ambassador to the UN John D. Negroponte had called a nonnegotiable document. That the US/UK 'coalition' revised what the Bush administration had presented as a "take it or leave it" plan was a surprising about-face, particularly as White House hawks had been touting the irrelevance of the UN in all the victory crowing which followed the fall of Baghdad. "It's a new strategic situation," they sneered, "and the UN is not relevant anymore. It's America's military might that is king of the hill."
So why the sudden conciliatory tone, the surprising about-face? Why go to the UN for approval to govern a post-Saddam Iraq that is already under 'coalition' dominance? Could it be that the task has proved far more complex' than the Bush administration had envisioned, that Shi'ite, Kurd and Sunni political aspirations are proving more powerful than...