There are a thousand reasons to dislike the United Nations. Most of them show up in letters to the editor from the scofflaw ways of foreign diplomats visiting the United States to the disproportionate influence and power granted middle-tier countries. But only a devout cynic would not feel encouraged to see U.N. forces returning to Iraq.
It feels like they left a decade ago. Now, seeing a force manned by the world community back on the streets of Baghdad brings a little more resolve, a little more strength to the mission.
This time around the U.N. and the Iraqi government are working on ways to improve the nation's spending habits. The U.N. will also lend a hand with reconstruction, development and humanitarian projects. With its budget of $2.2 billion, the U.N. goal is to train Iraqi bureaucrats in the ways of governing and help the leaders spur the private sector. Jobs will be job one. When the people get back to work, the nation will be able to get back on its feet.
Ironically, the new plans came to light on the fifth anniversary of the bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed 22. Now, with security improving, the U.N. is beginning to stand in high relief there again. There will be risks, but the alternative is to stand by and watch as a nation flounders and perhaps even lurches into radicalism and self-destruction.
Say what you will about the United Nations, it has always tried to take on endeavors that improve the communication and well-being of nations. Its forces, over the decades, have become synonymous with the word "peacekeeper." The powder-blue helmets of its forces are the symbol of a group determined to "soften" the blows of war.
The United Nations will always have to deal with abuses of privilege and power within its ranks. But a broader vision will show an organization determined to make a positive difference in the world. You don't have to be blind to the problems to agree with the international statesman Kofi Annan.
"More than ever before in human history," he said, "we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations."