August was a disastrous month for the United Nations, the American-run Coalition Provisional Authority, and especially the Iraqi people. A violent insurgency against US occupation escalated into an all-out campaign of sabotage and terror. On August 7 a car bomb outside the Jordanian embassy killed seventeen people and injured ﬁfty. A week later Iraq’s main oil pipeline, the economic lifeline of the country, was blown up two days after its post-war return to service.
On August 19 a lorry packed with over a thousand pounds of explosives detonated below the ofﬁce window of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative Sergio Vieira de Mello, killing him and twenty two others. De Mello was not only one of the most talented diplomats of his generation, but the man in whom the UN had invested its hopes and plans for the regeneration of Iraq, a country wracked by forty ﬁve years of dictatorship and three wars in two decades.