The UN has announced that it’s pulling out of Iraq because Iraq is too dangerous. Previously, of course, Iraq was a safe place – for UN employees, that is. For Iraqis, by contrast, it was a place where you were apt to be stuffed into a plastic shredder, or have your ears cut off by a government-paid surgeon, or your wife gang-raped by military officers or your child thrown in a dungeon. But, again, we’re talking about Iraqis here, not international civil servants. Institutionally, the UN cares deeply about the welfare of international civil servants. Institutionally, the UN never cared a fig about Iraqis and the oppression they suffered under Saddam Hussein.
But another question arises here. Why aren’t those who favor a larger UN role in Iraq calling on the UN not to pull out its workers, but rather to send in the Blue Helmets — UN forces drawn from various member countries — to protect UN employees and facilities in Iraq? I bet the US military command would approve such a proposal. But if the UN can’t be responsible for its own staff in one or two buildings, how could anyone possibly imagine that the UN could be responsible for security in the entire country?