I don’t think this is all that significant

U.S. seeks greater U.N. role in Iraq

I’ll admit that I haven’t really read a whole lot about this “evolutionary” step in the rebuilding of Iraq. At first I was a little surprised that we, on the surface, seem to have done an ‘about face.’ But it might only be on the surface.

I can’t help wondering if this is just another move on the political chessboard intended only to free up a major piece, only a refinement of our overall strategy. Sort of a ‘pawn to knight three’ to open up a lane for the bishop. Take this:

One official said the exact role the United Nations would play in helping the Iraq Governing Council form a permanent government was “murkier” than the plans for its involvement in the multinational force. The official said that the resolution envisions a supporting role for the United Nations, but one that would not give the world body authority over the coalition provisional authority, Paul Bremer, or the interim Governing Council.

That tells me that the UN will be manning the telephones and delivering the mail, and maybe even taking down the minutes at meetings, but not really making any decisions. Also

[UN Secretary General Kofi] Annan has ruled out placing the traditionally lightly-armed U.N. peacekeeping force in Iraq, apparently because he views the situation there as too unstable.

That’s good, because we would have been forced to provide security for them.

I think this might be all about paying some lip service to the UN in order to get India, Russia, and others to contribute some forces so we can use our forces to fight bad guys instead of guarding electrical grids and oil pipelines.

Even if my suspicions are true, that doesn’t mean that I think it’s neccessarily a good idea. UN-mandated assistance will only come with compromises, and we need to be sure we don’t compromise anything we can’t afford to. If the UN doesn’t go for the limited role we actually seem to be “offering,” at least we’ll be able to say “we gave it a shot.” That will give us a little political cover as we carry on with our mission.

And, in the end, maybe that’s all this is about.