Don't Involve the U.N.
The shameful looting of antiquities from Iraq's national museum in
Baghdad has prompted international calls for the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to
oversee their recovery. The U.N., it is argued, should be entrusted
with restoring the historic treasures.
Serious doubts, though, exist regarding the credibility of UNESCO.
The U.S. boycotted the institution for 18 years - from 1984 to
2002. The jury is still out as to whether it has solved the
problems that prompted the withdrawal, including rampant fiscal
mismanagement, an overwhelming anti-Western bias and a radical
We don't need a politicized bureaucracy such as UNESCO to solve the
antiquities problem. A far better option would be a U.S.-British
led international task force that draws together the world's
leading experts from places such as the British Museum, the Getty
Museum in Los Angeles and New York's Metropolitan Museum of
Yes, the United Nations has a role to play in postwar Iraq, but it
should be a purely humanitarian one. An organization that failed to
enforce no fewer than 17 resolutions calling for Iraqi disarmament
lacks the moral standing to administer the country or to safeguard
its cultural heritage.
Indeed, the Iraq issue has cast serious doubts on the U.N.'s
credibility as a whole. The U.N. is slowly dying as a force on the
world stage and will go the way of the League of Nations unless it
is radically reformed and restructured. It failed spectacularly to
defuse the growing threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and its
influence likely will continue to wane. The U.N.'s charter has been
sullied further by the fall from grace of the organization's
Commission on Human Rights. Libya's chairmanship of the commission
and the panel's courtship of nearly every brutal dictatorship from
Sudan to North Korea are abhorrent spectacles that have shattered
the U.N.'s reputation.
U.N. intervention in a post-Saddam Iraq would merely strengthen the
hands of those nations, such as France and Russia, who opposed
regime change in Baghdad and appeased the Iraqi dictatorship for
As President Bush's father might say: This must not stand.
is a visiting fellow in Anglo-American security policy
at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank.
Appeared in USA Today Newspaper