The Baghdad bomb the United Nations and America 2009: Massacre United

The Baghdad bomb the United Nations and America

The massacre of United Nations employees in Iraq on 19 August 2003 was a dark moment in the organisation's history.

It also carries lessons for the United States&194 in the age of Barack Obama, says Johanna Mendelson Forman. The sixth anniversary since a bomb of August silenced the United Nations voice in Baghdad is a moment for commemoration of and tribute to the twenty-two people who lost their lives, and the approximately 150 who were wounded. It is also more: for the horrific truck-bomb of 19 August 2003 on the Canal Hotel which served as the UN headquarters in Iraq is now a key moment in history.&194 The Iraqi vortex &194 In his brief period in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello had pleaded for greater understanding of the Iraqi street and its voices amid the chaos of post-war administration. These were ignored, and the silencing of this voice of reason marked the beginning of a bitter insurgency and civil war that raged in Iraq until 2005-06. It took a long time before much-needed shifts in Washington's military policy and thinking filtered through to better policy on the ground even after six years, the security situation remains and the establishment of working relationships with Iraqi leaders have proved tough. How much of a difference Sergio Vieira de Mello would have made here is one of the many unanswered questions of this violent period (see Samantha Powell, Chasing the Flame: One Man's Fight to Save the World [Penguin, 2008]). The destruction of the Canal Hotel also marked the nadir of multilateralism, and an awful symbol of how the George W Bush administration's foreign-policy "exceptionalism" had the promise of international cooperation. The leading officials of the administration in effect relegated the UN to the trash-heap of global institutions, opting instead for an approach to international relations that in the end served no interest but to wreak more death and destruction on the "liberated" citizens of Iraq. This posture had started to shift by the time the Bush administration neared its end in 2008-09, but the damage wrought by the events in Iraq was enduring. &194 Out of the rubble The perspective of six years also highlights the importance of the improved relationship between the United States and the United Nations that are the result of the election of in November 2008.&194 The new US president has outlined "a new era of engagement" in US foreign policy of which multilateralism is a cornerstone. It is a change that has profound implications for the UN, and is worth considering on this anniversary.&194 &194

Some remarks by the US's permanent representative to the UN, , are in this respect a revealing indicator of the future direction of US diplomacy:

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