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Another Week of Infamy at the United Nations

By David Warren

This has been another week of infamy at the United Nations -- they have strung quite a few hundred of them together -- and while one can't refer to a "low point" in an institution that is morally bottomless, the failure to do anything even mildly credible about the nuclear threat from Iran is at least worthy of note.

Three weeks after the urgent matter of Iran's non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was referred to it, the Security Council issued a non-binding presidential statement. The members could not even draft a Security Council resolution. They could not bring themselves to repeat the grave charges tabled by their own International Atomic Energy Agency, nor formally acknowledge that the IAEA had presented the case to them for action. They found no fault in the Iranian president's repeated promises to "wipe-out Israel", or in his public musings about the Koranic apocalypse being at hand.

Instead, they expressed "serious concerns", about e.g. "Iran's decision to resume enrichment-related activities", and called upon that country to "take steps ... which are essential to build confidence". After which, Iran replied with a huge public raspberry.

Let me not exempt the Bush administration from criticism, in passing. By undertaking pointless bilateral talks with Iran over its sponsorship of the insurgency in Iraq, the U.S. removed such wind as it had put in the sails of its European allies. And by assuring everyone that the American response to Iran's intransigence will be expressed only through the United Nations, President Bush let the air out of everything else. Granted, the Pentagon has been observed developing a "strategic plan" for dealing with Iran in the most direct possible way; but they produce one of those for every imaginable contingency. It means nothing until they call up troops.

To my mind, it is the height of irresponsibility to refer anything at all to the United Nations. This is the organization that previously enabled the intransigence of Saddam Hussein; which channelled billions of "oil-for-food" dollars to him and his stooges while pocketing the change; thus providing Saddam with the means to buy protection from politicians in France, Russia, and elsewhere. It is the organization whose "peacekeepers" are running paedophile rackets all over Africa. Which gobbled large sums designated for the relief of tsunami victims in Indonesia. Which operates under a secretary-general who persistently sabotages American and other Western efforts to fight international terrorism. I could go on.

At perhaps a deeper level of corruption, the "U.N. ideal" provides ideological cover to the whited sepulchres of the international Left -- a rhetorical cudgel to be used against any defender of Western values and moral norms, by posturing "revolutionaries" in the Third World, and the West's own intellectual traitors. Behind and beneath them is what one of the U.N.'s own internal auditors has called "the culture of impunity", wherein traditional diplomatic immunities have been freed from all traditional accountability, in a bureaucracy that appears to exist for no other purpose than to serve itself.

I shall never have the space in these short columns to begin pealing through the U.N.'s layers of perfidy and shame. Instead, I will refer my reader to the current (April) number of the monthly Commentary magazine, where the field is staked by Claudia Rosett, a journalist who has been covering this U.N. beat remorselessly for the Wall Street Journal and New York Sun.

But apart from all that, we must remember that even if the U.N. were honestly managed, and staffed by sages and saints, it would not be the appropriate forum for dealing with threats from such rogue states as Iran. For success in such a confrontation requires discipline, nerve, and tactical skill, under bold leadership. This can never be provided by a club that consists of nearly 200 members with conflicting interests, or by a Security Council in which several veto-wielding powers devote their joyful energies to tripping each other up. The U.N. can be a forum for formal and informal diplomatic exchanges; a "clearing house" of some sort; but it cannot offer transnational solutions to real world crises, because there are no such solutions to be had.

Sovereignty exists at the national level, where governments armed with police and soldiers tend national interests and cultivate the means to enforce their interpretation of a national will. This is the unchanging reality through the foreseeable future. Forget about "speaking truth to power". The only way to say boo to Iran is with a bigger power. Read: the USA and a "coalition of the willing".


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