There is an outstanding editorial in the Wall Street Journal today blistering the UN. The editorial does not cite the horrendous job the UN has historically done in Africa, visible most recently with the Congo (mentioned in another thread). Also, the editorial does not mention the UN's greatest talent--passing virulent anti-Semitic resolutions. And, their most mind boggling trait is the inability to be parodied because any parody falls short of the complete and utter incompetence they actually show. Here's a copy and paste for those without WSJ access:
What Moral Legitimacy?
So now they want in. True, Kofi Annan did have the wit to refute a Kremlin announcement that he would be joining the coalition of the unwilling -- France, Germany and Russia -- at this weekend's confab in St. Petersburg. Yet even in the face of footage from Baghdad that conjures up images of Paris 1944 or Berlin 1989, we're still asked to believe that an America spilling its blood and treasure to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein has less moral credibility than a U.N. that helped prop him up for 12 years.
That much was made plain earlier this week with Mr. Annan's ex cathedra declaration that only the U.N. possessed the moral imprimatur necessary to confer "legitimacy" on postwar Iraq. But legitimacy is not something that can be imposed by the United Nations -- or the United States for that matter. Legitimacy derives from the consent of the governed: the people of Iraq.
It's worth remembering that the U.N. drove itself into this ditch. And the Secretary General bears particular responsibility. Over the years Mr. Annan's willingness to look the other way allowed Saddam to pursue weapons we were assured he didn't have, to continue killing Iraqis who opposed his regime and, as we are now learning, use the U.N.'s oil-for-food program as a vehicle to enrich himself (and fund some of his illicit arms projects) while his people continued to suffer from U.N. sanctions.
Iraq is hardly the only instance of funny notions about U.N. legitimacy. Look at the travesty of what the U.N. Human Rights Commission is now doing in Geneva. It's bad enough that the Commission is chaired by Libya and includes five other nations featured on Freedom House's list of the world's most repressive regimes. But the Commission is now trying to upgrade the human rights status of Sudan, a country that still practices slavery and which the U.S. officially deems guilty of genocide.
There's a certain twisted logic to one ugly regime, Libya, wishing to whitewash another. And if that were all the support Sudan had, it wouldn't go anywhere. But this has all been happening with the help of France. Could its willingness to carry water for Khartoum possibly have any connection with the oil fields in southern Sudan, presently inaccessible, where TotalFina has more than a passing interest?
Unfortunately, Sudan and Iraq are not aberrations. On Wednesday, having apparently learned nothing from what is happening around the Tigris and Euphrates, the Security Council could not even bring itself to condemn North Korea for its egregious withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
In the case of Iraq itself, meanwhile, there even is an argument that the U.N. has a vested interest in seeing postwar Iraq fail. Certainly the foreign ministers meeting in St. Petersburg cannot be eager to have the extent of French, German and Russian arms dealings with Iraq exposed for all the world to see.
It is hardly a coincidence that the two times in history the U.N. rose to the occasion -- during the Korean War and the first Gulf War -- were both U.S.-led efforts. But the U.N. model has time and again proved lethal. In Cambodia, the U.N. peacekeepers who were supposed to bring democracy couldn't even protect themselves and ultimately allowed Hun Sen to steal the elections. The worst massacre in Europe since World War II occurred in Srebrenica when U.N. forces stood by as Serbs were allowed to round up and murder 8,000 Muslims, including boys, from an area the U.N. had designated as a safe haven.
Let's not forget Rwanda, where half a million people were ultimately slaughtered when the bulk of a U.N. peacekeeping force pulled out at the beginning of the bloodshed after 10 Belgian troops were killed. Mr. Annan was then head of the U.N.'s peacekeeping operations and he was singled out in the U.N.'s own report into the matter for his failure to pass on clear warnings about the impending genocide.
In the long run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, President Bush not only offered the U.N. a tremendous opportunity to redeem this past, he did so at the risk to American life, civilian and military, that came from a delay that could only work to Saddam's advantage. Mr. Annan and the Security Council rejected that opportunity. So when it comes to moral legitimacy in the new Baghdad, the only voices that should count are those belonging to a liberated people able to speak freely for the first time in their lives.