THE UN IS OUR FRIEND!….I read this New York Times article last night but then forgot to blog about it. The tone is pretty remarkable:

President Bush pressed Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, on Tuesday to have his aides mediate among quarreling factions in Iraq and forge a consensus behind a plan that would allow the transfer of sovereignty to a government in Baghdad by June 30, administration officials said.

….”We are trying to put this issue in Kofi Annan’s lap and let him run with it,” one official said. “There’s still very much the intention to stick with the date of June 30. But there’s a lot of pressure on Kofi Annan to come up with the right solution.”

Mr. Annan, for his part, has not wanted to become involved without wielding substantial authority.

The administration seems willing to allow that. Officials said Mr. Annan would have wide latitude to present Washington with a plan for Iraq’s future governance ? including a schedule for elections later this year ? and that if he can demonstrate that it has broad backing in Iraq, the administration would have little choice but to go along. Some administration officials are now even saying it is possible for the United Nations to take the lead role in guiding the Iraqi political process after the return of self-rule.

The sense of panic is palpable. If you read the whole thing, it’s clear that while Cheney and Rumsfeld may not be very happy about this, Bremer and Bush seem to have simply given up hope of accomplishing anything. At this point, they’re willing to just shovel the whole thing into the lap of the hated United Nations if that’s the only way to forge a pre-election exit strategy.

As a liberal-hawk-turned-dove-turned-confusednik, I hardly know what to think anymore. In the end, I opposed the war partly because I finally concluded that this is exactly what would happen with Bush & Co. in charge, but at the same time I’m just idealistic enough to feel like we have to see things through anyway now that we’ve invaded Iraq and ripped it apart. On the other hand, it’s still Bush & Co. in charge. What are the odds that they’ll be able to put aside their internal squabbling and election year cynicism long enough to risk doing the right thing?

Slim and none, as near as I can tell. And if they aren’t willing to do that, then we might just as well pull out now and stop pretending. And thus comes to an end another glorious chapter in American democracy promotion.