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[casi] Fisk: UN Attack Underlines America's Crumbling Authority

UN Attack Underlines America's Crumbling Authority And
Shows It Can Not Guarantee The Safety Of Any One

Robert Fisk

08/20/03: What UN member would ever contemplate
sending peace-keeping troops to Iraq now? The men who
are attacking America's occupation army are ruthless,
but they are not stupid. They know that President
George Bush is getting desperate, that he will do
anything - that he may even go to the dreaded Security
Council for help - to reduce US military losses in
Iraq. But yesterday's attack on the UN headquarters in
Baghdad has slammed shut the door to that escape

Within hours of the explosion, we were being told that
this was an attack on a "soft target", a blow against
the UN itself. True, it was a "soft" target, although
the machine-gun nest on the roof of the UN building
might have suggested that even the international body
was militarising itself. True, too, it was a
shattering assault on the UN as an institution. But in
reality, yesterday's attack was against the United

For it proves that no foreign organisation - no NGO,
no humanitarian organisation, no investor, no
businessman - can expect to be safe under America's
occupation rule. Paul Bremer, the US pro-consul, was
meant to be an "anti-terrorism" expert. Yet since he
arrived in Iraq, he has seen more "terrorism" than he
can have dreamt of in his worst nightmares - and has
been able to do nothing about it. Pipeline sabotage,
electricity sabotage, water sabotage, attacks on US
troops and British troops and Iraqi policemen and now
the bombing of the UN.  What comes next? The Americans
can reconstruct the dead faces of Saddam's two sons,
but they can't reconstruct Iraq.

Of course, this is not the first indication that the
"internationals" are in the sights of Iraq's
fast-growing resistance movement. Last month, a UN
employee was shot dead south of Baghdad. Two
International Red Cross workers were murdered, the
second of them a Sri Lankan employee killed in his
clearly marked Red Cross car on Highway 8 just north
of Hilla. When he was found, his blood was still
pouring from the door of his vehicle. The Red Cross
chief delegate, who signed out the doomed man on his
mission to the south of Baghdad, is now leaving Iraq.
Already, the Red Cross itself is confined to its
regional offices and cannot travel across Iraq by

An American contractor was killed in Tikrit a week
ago. A British journalist was murdered in Baghdad last
month. Who is safe now? Who will now feel safe at a
Baghdad hotel when one of the most famous of them all
- the old Canal Hotel, which housed the UN arms
inspectors before the invasion - has been blown up?
Will the next "spectacular" be against occupation
troops? Against the occupation leadership? Against the
so-called Iraqi "Interim Council"? Against

The reaction to yesterday's tragedy could have been
written in advance. The Americans will tell us that
this proves how "desperate" Saddam's "dead-enders"
have become - as if the attackers are more likely to
give up as they become more successful in destroying
US rule in Iraq. The truth - however many of Saddam's
old regime hands are involved - is that the Iraqi
resistance organisation now involves hundreds, if not
thousands, of Sunni Muslims, many of them with no
loyalty to the old regime. Increasingly, the Shias are
becoming involved in anti-American actions.

Future reaction is equally predictable. Unable to
blame their daily cup of bitterness upon Saddam's
former retinue, the Americans will have to conjure up
foreign intervention. Saudi "terrorists", al-Qa'ida
"terrorists", pro-Syrian "terrorists", pro-Iranian
"terrorists" - any mysterious "terrorists" will do if
their supposed existence covers up the painful
reality: that our occupation has spawned a real
home-grown Iraqi guerrilla army capable of humbling
the greatest power on Earth.

With the Americans still trying to bring other nations
on board for their Iraqi adventure - even the Indians
have had the good sense to decline the invitation -
yesterday's bombing was therefore aimed at the jugular
of any future "peace-keeping" mission. The UN flag was
supposed to guarantee security. But in the past, a UN
presence was always contingent upon the acquiescence
of the sovereign power. With no sovereign power in
existence in Iraq, the UN's legitimacy was bound to be
locked on to the occupation authority. Thus could it
be seen - by America's detractors - as no more than an
extension of US power. President Bush was happy to
show his scorn for the UN when its inspectors failed
to find any weapons of mass destruction and when its
Security Council would not agree to the Anglo-American
invasion. Now he cannot even protect UN lives in Iraq.
Does anyone want to invest in Iraq now? Does anyone
want to put their money on a future "democracy" in

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