The U.N. can end these wars
It alone has enough clout to bring about peace in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(Page 2 of 2)
Americans have a similar need for a greatly increased UN leadership in Afghanistan. Given the current state of world politics, it is quite improbable that the US and its NATO allies can ever achieve the "pacification" of a country so far distant from NATO in geography, culture, and politics.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski is just one of those now warning the US against being drawn into the same trap that confounded the Soviets in Afghanistan. Other non-NATO governments need to be brought into the decisionmaking. (The stakes that many of them have in preventing the Afghan state from failing yet again are just as high, or higher than, our own.)
Remember, too, that NATO – unlike the UN – has always been, and remains, a military alliance. Only the UN can amass the broad range of tools needed to carry out the tasks of long-term peace-building in Afghanistan, as it has successfully done in Mozambique, Cambodia, and elsewhere. Those tools will likely include military-style units for peacekeeping or peace enforcement.
But many nonmilitary tools will be required as well. The goal is to have Afghanistan become a functioning, independent country whose people have no incentive to provide safe harbor to terrorists or drug lords.
Again, only the UN has the worldwide legitimacy and the technical and cultural capacities needed to spearhead this effort.
These tasks will require, certainly, a strong new compact between our country and the UN, whose capacities have been badly hobbled by Washington's deep estrangement from it in recent years. We should recall that the UN was created by an earlier, much wiser generation of American leaders, and it still stands as one of our country's finest achievements.
So yes, there is a way for everyone, including our country, to win in Iraq and Afghanistan. It means stepping back from the urge to have Washington "control" all the big decisions in both countries. It also means understanding that in this century, the world's peoples are all dependent for our security upon each other. Security is no longer a function mainly of military might, but of helping people everywhere build flourishing and hope-filled communities.
The UN embodies those ideals of human security and global interdependence. In the 21st century, we and the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan need it more than ever before.
Helena Cobban, a former Monitor correspondent, is a "Friend in Washington" with the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Her latest book is "Re-engage: America and the World After Bush."