I hear people like Joe Biden say we need to "internationalize" the effort in Iraq. I respect Mr. Biden, and the many smart people, the "loyal opposition," who share his thesis that we should bring in the U.N. and turn the whole Iraq mess over to the world community.
These are nice sounding words, but what do they mean?
Members of the same "loyal opposition" are also the same administration critics who accuse Bush of not having a plan for post-war Iraq. But every time I hear Mr. Biden and others insist on "internationalization," I think, "Okay, what's your plan?" The plan seems to go no further than, "Turn it over, and everything will be hunky dory."
What's the plan, my friends? What's the plan? Do you call that a plan?
Will "internationalization" fix things? Will it save American lives? Will it end terrorists' strikes? Will it convince the lion to lay with the lamb?
Is "internationalization" a panacea or a placebo?
There is only one way I see "internationalization" improving things, and it is based on this assumption: The "militants" now attacking American forces and Iraqi institutions and NGOs are driven not by ideology, nor religous fanaticism, nor a lust for the old Ba'thist power structure and torture chambers; rather, the attacks are simply the righteous expressions of Iraqi nationalism; these are attacks not to reinstitute mass burials, but to force the retreat of an illegitimate occupying power. If that view is the correct view, than only the U.N. and E.U. can fix things.
For myself, I don't believe that marching Kofi Annan's fair weather troopers into the heart of Baghdad will save a single life. International troops will just become international targets. Any force that stands between the Ba'thists and their Iraqi victims will find making peace a long hard slog, if the blue helmets even stick around past the first car bomb in their barracks.
The only way to fix things is to tough it out. We are supposedly the leaders of the free world. Well, what do leaders do when things get hard? They lead. They don't cut and run.
There are no short cuts on the road to freedom.
I'm losing confidence that the Bush Administration sees it that way. Where the plan once called for Iraqi security forces to receive three months of training, they are now getting two weeks. There is talk of moving up the timetable for creating a new constitution, for bringing about Iraqi sovereignty well before the 2004 election.
This doesn't smell like victory. It smells like political expediency. And that's not how you reorder a freer, more prosperous and more secure world.
What we have, it seems, is an administration that is accused of having no plan paying too much attention to people who not only have no plan, they have no clue.