As the civil war in Iraq spins out of control, the debate in the United States is now centering on what this country should do. As the foreign power responsible for bombing and invading another sovereign nation, it is about time we began to ask how we can set things right.

There are those whose overriding motive is saving face. They don’t care how many more must die. George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice belong to this sorry bunch. Their credibility in shreds, their grasp on power slipping, they still want another chance to send tens of thousands more in harm’s way. Why should anyone trust those who lied to the country and took the nation to war under false pretenses?

Of course, warmongers are pitching all kinds of doomsday scenarios for Iraq without American troops. Their real agenda is to justify an indefinite occupation of Iraq, and to build a new base for U.S. dominance of the Middle East. In previous centuries, we would have called it empire building; now we use more civilized terms such as “spreading freedom and democracy,” but the end result is the same: controlling every corner of the world with any precious natural resources, and pushing the locals out of the way, by force if necessary.

No one wants an al Qaeda government in Iraq, just as no one wants a Taliban government in Afghanistan. The fact of the matter is that it is the Bush administration, not Saddam Hussein, that has made it safe for al Qaeda to operate in Iraq. Bush’s loyal friend, Pervez Musharraf, has made large swaths of Pakistan safe for Osama bin Laden and Taliban to operate in, free from U.S. raids. American control of Iraq is part of the problem, not the solution, and things in Iraq will not start to improve until American troops leave.

So what will bring peace and stability to Iraq? I have two letters of the alphabet for you: U.N. Yes, the very same world body that Colin Powell lied to, the very same institution whose emasculation was finessed by the recess appointment of its arch-enemy, John Bolton, as the U.S. ambassador.

The United Nations can rescue our country from this mess. This world body commands the sort of credibility around the world that the United States or NATO will never have. Given a suitable mandate and authority, the U.N. can bring stability to Iraq and Afghanistan, and check the growth of al Qaeda and other violent groups. With our genuine support (not condescension), it can put troubled regions of the world on a path to peace and prosperity.

Our leaders destroyed this great world institution. They have it within them to build it up again as a force for good in the world.