A REAL UN ARMY….Am I just being suckered by a pretty face, or is Max Boot genuinely a neocon worth listening to? Maybe a little of both, but it’s hard not to pay attention when he writes seriously about the problems of peacekeeping and nation building in the 21st century:

Nationally, the United States needs to create a standing agency devoted to nation-building; it should have a director with the authority to force disparate departments in the U.S. government to work together, something that didn’t happen before the invasion of Iraq….There are also international organizations that can assist. NATO is creating a 21,000-strong Response Force. The European Union wants to follow suit.

….Don’t forget the United Nations. It currently deploys more than 45,000 peacekeepers, but their effectiveness is severely limited because they are supposed to enforce existing peace accords and stay strictly neutral even if one party is clearly at fault.

….The U.N. needs a tough, professional force like the French Foreign Legion that would not quail before Haitian gang leaders or Serbian ethnic-cleansers. Members of such an outfit would have to be recruited on merit and trained together; it could not be cobbled together at the last minute from the military riffraff of Third World dictatorships.

Boot himself admits that these ideas are currently “wishful thinking” both because of problems with the UN itself and with the deep animus toward the UN within the United States. But even so it’s nice to hear a conservative voice willing to face the obvious: we can’t police the world by ourselves, and that means having to rethink our willingness to cooperate with multinational institutions if we want to achieve our goals.

Needless to say, that kind of cooperation inevitably requires genuine concessions on both sides. We simply won’t get everything we want and we have to accept that up front. Would Boot be willing to accept these restrictions on our freedom of action when push came to shove?

I don’t know. But it’s good that he puts the issue on the table. Democrats and liberals ought to pick up this peace offering and run with it.