August 24, 2003

MARK STEYN:

Well, that’s the luck of the draw at the UN, where so far this year Libya, Iraq and Syria have found themselves heading up the Human Rights Commission, the Disarmament Committee and the Security Council. The UN’s subscription to this charade may be necessary in New York, but what’s tragic is that they seem to have conducted their affairs in Baghdad much the same way. Offers of increased U.S. military protection were turned down. Their old Iraqi security guards, all agents of Saddam’s Secret Service there to spy on the UN, were allowed by the organization to carry on working at the compound. And sitting in the middle of an unprotected complex staffed by ex-Saddamite spies was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the individual most directly credited with midwifing East Timor into an independent democratic state. Osama bin Laden (or rather whoever makes his audiocassettes) and the Bali bombers have both cited East Timor as high up on their long list of grievances: the carving out, as they see it, of part of the territory of the world’s largest Islamic nation to create a mainly Christian state. Now they’ve managed to kill the fellow responsible. Any way you look at it, that’s quite a feather in their turbans.

Read the whole thing. And read this Ralph Peters column, too:

An active-duty U.S. Army officer, Lt.-Col. Jack Curran, was in charge of local medevac operations. Weeks before the truck-bomb attack, he, too, recognized the vulnerability of the hotel compound. Diplomatically, he asked if his pilots and medical personnel could “practice medevac ops” at the U.N. headquarters. “Just for training.” With the security officer’s help, he got permission.

As a result, there had just been two full, on-site rehearsals for what had to be done after the bombing. Thanks to this spirited, visionary officer, our helicopters and vehicles knew exactly how to get in, where best to upload casualties and where a triage station should be set up.

With impressive speed, the U.S. Army medevaced 135 U.N. employees and Iraqi civilians from the scene, saving more lives than will ever be known for certain.

U.S. Army Reserve engineers and Army mortuary personnel moved in to do the grisly, demanding work of rescuing any trapped survivors and processing the dead.

Now that the damage is done, the U.S. Army’s welcome. A company of our 82nd Airborne Division took over external security for the site last week.

But what were the first complaints we heard from the media “experts”? That the U.S. Army was to blame, because it failed to provide adequate security.

In fact, we offered the U.N. armored vehicles. They told us to take a hike. U.N. bureaucrats put more trust in the good will of terrorists and Ba’athist butchers than they did in GI Joe.

But when the U.N.’s own people lay bleeding, they were glad enough for our help. As one U.N. employee, speaking from inside the Baghdad compound, put it to me, “It was a proud day for the U.S. Army.”

Funny this wasn’t more widely reported.