The United Nations in Iraq

Carlos Pascual
Carlos Pascual Former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Senior Vice President for Global Energy - IHS Markit, Former Brookings expert

September 1, 2007

Iraq: Not Just America’s Problem

Stabilizing Iraq has become an issue of massive global and regional consequence. At stake are the risks of a wider regional conflict between Sunni and Shi’a and perhaps between Arabs and Persians, humanitarian tragedy spreading over multiple states, a platform for international terrorism, and disruptions to oil production and transit from the single most critical region affecting global oil markets. A serious and calibrated United Nations role is both justified and necessary, even if success cannot be guaranteed. U.S. experience in Iraq has demonstrated that a largely unilateral and military-focused approach to stability will not work. Decades of international experience underscore that, first and foremost, a political agreement among the warring Iraqi parties is needed for a sustainable peace, and that long term multilateral engagement is necessary to create a chance for its successful implementation. In the meantime, the humanitarian and security consequences emerging from Iraq threaten the entire region and those with a stake in its security and resources. As much as Iraq has become a domestic issue in the United States, and as much as other nations may want to distance themselves from American failures in Iraq, Iraq is not just an American problem – and there are no viable American unilateral solutions.