MULTILATERALISM….In the current crisis in North Korea the United States insists that negotiations should involve other countries in the region. Why? Because otherwise they have no stake in the eventual outcome and no incentive to make it work.

In Afghanistan a multinational force is involved in nation building under the general direction of the UN. Why? Because it’s an expensive operation and it makes sense to spread the cost and manpower among as many countries as possible.

In the case of Israel/Palestine, the United States has insisted on a roadmap process supported by the “Quartet”: the United States, the EU, Russia, and the UN. Why? Because the United States isn’t trusted by all parties and a multinational plan therefore has a better chance of being accepted.

The United States has often criticized Europe for its low levels of defense spending. Why? Because they are free riders. They get away with low spending levels only because they know that in the end they can always count on the United States military to protect them.

These are all good reasons for multinational collaboration in foreign policy. They are also reasons put forward by conservatives and by a conservative administration. So why is that Iraq, uniquely in the world, seems to be the one place where none of this matters?

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