In early August, the Bush Administration – with no spin – put in place an exit strategy to end the War in Iraq. The United States and the United Kingdom obtained a resolution of the United Nations Security Council to expand the UN’s mandate to administer Iraq on an interim basis and to negotiate an end to conflict – both within Iraq among the Kurds, Sunnis and Shi’ites and within the region among the Sunni States (Saudi Arabia and Syria), Shi’ite Iran and Turkey.
The resolution permits the United Nations to assume more direct responsibilities for the delivery of public order and government services within Iraq in the context of dialogue with regional powers. With a new political dynamic initiated, the United States can begin a process of responsible withdrawal.
Now it’s just too bad the Bush Administration didn’t take this course 4 years ago when it could have spared much bloodshed and violence. It’s more than too bad; it is rank incompetence.
Here is what I recommended in March 2003 when the War in Iraq was just getting under way: (By the way, The Pioneer Press didn’t think my idea was worth printing.)
Another note: in 1990 I had proposed the interim UN Administration for Cambodia, which was implemented and which ended the war there.
For the Pioneer Press
The Way out of Iraq: A UN Trusteeship
By Stephen B. Young
March 27, 2003
Overlooked by President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, and their many accomplished advisors, in their war plans for regime change in Iraq is the existing system of United Nations Trusteeships.
With Iraqi resistance to the American invasion stiffening over the last 48 hours, new voices of concern are being heard as to how the United States expects to extricate itself from Iraq once Saddam Hussein and his Ba’ath Party administration are defeated militarily?
The Washington Post quotes a ranking general in the Pentagon asking: “Tell me, how does this all end?
The United Nations Charter has the answer.
The founders of the United Nations, including Minnesota’s Harold Stassen, knew that from time to time territories and countries might be without legitimate ruling governments. They would be what the UN Charter calls “non-self governing territories”.
This would be the case of Iraq after Saddam Hussein falls from power and no legitimate Iraqi government takes his place.
Article 73 of the UN Charter, binding on the United States and all its coalition allies, is a declaration that members of the UN who assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government must exercise those administrative powers for the good of those people as a “sacred trust”.
In particular, a ruling power must “ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses.”
Then the UN Charter goes on in Chapter XII to establish an international trustee system to provide for the transition of non-self governing territories to the status of self-governing independent states.
That system was used after World War II to assist territories such as Namibia to become independent nations as the era of colonialism came to an end.
More recently, the concept of a UN trust administration was, at my suggestion, used to end the war in Cambodia between Vietnam and China and their respective Cambodian clients and return Cambodia to a system of elected self-government.
Under Article 77( c ) of the UN Charter provides a very specific way for the United States and the United Kingdom, once they establish their military power over Iraq, to place Iraq in a UN Trusteeship for the UN to administer until the territory recovers its own powers of self-government.
The trusteeship agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations for the interim administration of Iraq must specify the ”terms under which the trust territory will be administered” and must “designate the authority which will exercise the administration of the trust territory.”
A commitment by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair today to withdraw from the administration of Iraq in favor of a UN Trusteeship once regime change has been accomplished would cement the legitimacy of the intervention into the internal political affairs of Iraq under international law to restore the sovereign rights of the Iraqi people over their land and their affairs.
Such a commitment would reduce growing anxiety and concern around the world American use of devastatingly destructive military power for just and good ends in responsible and humane fashion.
With an end goal of securing a UN trusteeship, the United States could provide itself with an honorable and effective exit strategy from a potential “quagmire” in Iraq, with its culture and politics so different from our own.