Bush asks UN for help re: Iraq 

What exactly is the point, though? The New York Times notes the following:

Aides to Mr. Annan and top American officials say the situation pulls the secretary general in several directions. Mr. Annan, they say, does not want to be seen as an American proxy, but he is determined to do what is necessary to help Iraq create a viable government. Still, they say, he is extremely reluctant to return the United Nations to a highly visible role in the country that could make it the target of attacks. A suicide bombing at the United Nations' Baghdad base in August killed the mission chief, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 other people.

So the UN doesn't necessarily have any more legitimacy than the US in the eyes of the insurgents, and probably in the eyes of the general public as well.

The main problem isn't a top-level problem; it's a bottom-level problem. Before they can govern themselves, the people of Iraq need to be comfortable with the basic notions of liberal democracy: You Cannot Get Everything You Want; Compromise Is Sometimes Necessary; and the like.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum says:

The sense of panic is palpable. If you read the whole thing, it's clear that while Cheney and Rumsfeld may not be very happy about this, Bremer and Bush seem to have simply given up hope of accomplishing anything. At this point, they're willing to just shovel the whole thing into the lap of the hated United Nations if that's the only way to forge a pre-election exit strategy.

As a liberal-hawk-turned-dove-turned-confusednik, I hardly know what to think anymore. In the end, I opposed the war partly because I finally concluded that this is exactly what would happen with Bush & Co. in charge, but at the same time I'm just idealistic enough to feel like we have to see things through anyway now that we've invaded Iraq and ripped it apart. On the other hand, it's still Bush & Co. in charge. What are the odds that they'll be able to put aside their internal squabbling and election year cynicism long enough to risk doing the right thing?

Slim and none, as near as I can tell. And if they aren't willing to do that, then we might just as well pull out now and stop pretending. And thus comes to an end another glorious chapter in American democracy promotion.

I like the word "confusednik".


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