There may be grounds to criticize President Bush's speech (and his policies), but insufficient multilateralism is not one of them. Military assistance from more countries would be helpful, but the imprimatur of the United Nations is not, and should not be, an end in itself. The UN is not the utopian "government of mankind" that liberals like to imagine it to be; it is a corrupt, reactionary, and profoundly anti-democratic organization. The UN's emerging role in Sudan is a step in the right direction, but many more such steps will be needed to establish the UN's credibility as a force for good. Iraq cannot afford to wait.
And who decided that the situation in Iraq had become "disastrous"? That does not sound like the assessment of a US Marine officer currently serving in Iraq, who states:
"The enemy is confused right now. He goes to bed convinced he is going to win because he watches the Al Jazeera and then the US media and believes that we are a weak willed people who can be terrorized and who have a penchant for self-loathing. Then, he wakes up and he comes across a coalition check point and he sees a young Soldier or Marine who stands there like a rock and exudes strength and conviction."
Nor does the Times' gloomy picture of Iraq accord easily with the latest post from Omar, who relates:
"I wanted to share with you some of the opinions of Iraqis about their daily lives that I read on the bbc. arabic.com There were more than many comments and about 70% of them were positive. Here are some examples:
What happens these days in Iraq is a natural process as a result from the transfer from dictatorship to democracy.
I'm an Iraqi citizen and I want to thank president GWB from all my heart for the great service he's done to the Iraqi people by freeing us from one of the worst tyrants in history. ...
I had to leave Iraq because I didn't want to be one of Saddam's slaves. After so many years, I'm back to my country and I saw that people are not as nervous as they used to be. I saw hope in their eyes despite the security problems. All I have to say to our Arab brothers is,"We are practicing democracy. You keep enjoying dictatorship"
Should the President admit he made mistakes? Well, as your own William Safire wrote some weeks ago, that would be a nice gesture from all parties concerned. I'd really like to hear the press admit that it was wrong to oppose the liberation of Iraq - but I'm not holding my breath for that to happen.
As one who served with the Marines in the first Iraq war, I am immensely pleased that our forces are now finishing the job and helping the Iraqi people build a better future. It would be nice to get a little support from the media.