by Michael Donovan, Ph.D.
The bomb that exploded in the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad is another in an escalating series of attacks on soft targets in Iraq. The selection of the United Nations as a target may be, in itself, ironic. It was, after all, the United Nations that objected to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in the first place. Given the Bush administration's opinion of the organization, a grim joke might have supposed that the Americans were the ones most likely to bomb U.N. facilities in Iraq. But it seems clear that those who violently oppose the Western occupation of Iraq have arrived at the conclusion that, beyond exacting a toll in lives, the best target in Iraq is legitimacy, and anything that can confer it. For its role in Iraq’s future to be credible and legitimate, Washington must accomplish some basic goals like establishing security and stability, and meeting the everyday needs of Iraqis. In this regard, today’s bombing, like the recent attacks on oil and water pipelines, is a vivid reminder of just how far away some of these goals are. After all, if the United Nations, which is in Iraq to coordinate humanitarian assistance among other benign pursuits, is not safe, who is?