Despite the administration’s best efforts to give the UN credit, the Security Council at best will acquiesce to the decision of other countries to take independent action. In September, the president lauded the Security Council for its role in Libya:
Libya is a lesson in what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one. … We cannot and should not intervene every time there is an injustice in the world. [But] there are times where the world could have and should have summoned the will to prevent the killing of innocents on a horrific scale.
The difference between the horror of Libya and the horror of Syria is unclear, but what the UN achieved in the former was simply to agree not to veto NATO’s already clear determination to oust Gaddafi. The Security Council certainly did not “stand together as one.” Russia, China, Germany, India, and Brazil, representing the majority of the world’s population and a great deal of its economic clout, abstained. The two permanent members declined to exercise a veto, perhaps because Libya wasn’t the client of either; Syria is.
Secretary Clinton announced after the Russian veto:
Faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations.
The Security Council was neutered long ago, and the General Assembly and Committees of the UN have become automatic vehicles for the battering of Israel, the West, and free institutions. Recognition of its ineffectuality is a step in the right direction — recognition of its perniciousness would be another. And best would be a determined effort to constitute a “club of democracies,” banding together to “take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace,” in the long-neglected words of the United Nations Charter.