April 29, 2003


Got that? Last month, the Russians were opposed to war on the grounds that there was no proof Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. This month, the Russians are opposed to lifting sanctions on the grounds that there’s no proof Iraq doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction. . . .

You don’t have to be a genius to see that, since September 11th, we have entered a transitional phase in world affairs. But reasonable people are prone to reasonableness and, as I mentioned the other day, they’re especially vulnerable to the seductive power of inertia in human affairs. The wish not to have to update one’s Rolodex burns fiercely in the political breast. Brent Scowcroft, George Bush Sr.’s National Security Advisor, wanted to stick with the Soviet Union even after the Politburo had given up on it. The European Union was committed to the preservation of Yugoslavia even when there had ceased to be a Yugoslavia to preserve. In the Middle East, clinging to the status quo even as it’s melting and dripping on to your shoes is one reason why the region is now a problem. . . .

Now another Middle Eastern war has come and gone, and the bien-pensants are anxious that once again an obsolescent institution be glued back together and propped in position. This time it’s the UN. The editors of Britain’s Spectator concede it has more than its share of “irritating do-gooders,” but surely even that’s a euphemism: The do-gooders are, in fact, do-badders. The “oil-for-palaces” program (as Tommy Franks calls it) is a grotesque boondoggle even by UN standards: It was good for bureaucrats, good for Saddam’s European bankers, good for his British stooge George Galloway, but bad for the Iraqi people. A humanitarian operation meant to help a dictator’s beleagured subjects has instead enriched the UN by over $1-billion (officially) in “administrative” costs. There’s no oversight, no auditing, nothing most businesses would recognize as a legitimate invoice, and, although non-essential items can only be approved by the Secretary-General himself, Kofi Annan (Mister Legitimacy) has personally signed off on practically anything Saddam requested, including “boats,” from France.

He’s right, of course. The United Nations is not a force for good in the world. To the very modest extent that it’s a force at all, it’s a force for corruption and the propping up of tyrants.

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