Among the more comical moments of a grim week was the sight of the president of the Security Council expressing his condemnation of the terrorist attack on the UN. He was the representative of Syria. Syria is a terrorist state. Syrians have flooded across the border into Iraq to take up arms with their beleaguered Baathist brethren. It would not be surprising to discover a Syrian connection to one or both of Tuesday's terrorist strikes in Baghdad and Jerusalem. But Syria happens to hold the presidency of the Security Council, so a fellow who's usually the apologist for terrorists gets to go on TV to represent the international community's determination to stand up to terrorism.
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.
But it doesn't really matter who's actually to blame--Baathist Iraqis or al-Qaida Saudis. As far as the world's press is concerned, the folks who are really to blame are the Americans. It's the Americans' fault because:
a) They made Iraq so insecure their own troops are getting picked off every day;
b) OK, fewer are being picked off than a few weeks back, but that's only because the Americans have made their own bases so secure that only soft targets like the UN are left;
c) OK, the UN's a soft target only because they turned down American protection, but the Americans should have had enough sense just to go ahead and install the concrete barriers and perimeter trenches anyway;
d) OK, if they'd done that, the beloved UN would have been further compromised by unduly close association with the hated Americans, which is probably what got them killed in the first place.
In other words, whatever happens, it's always evidence of American failure. That's the only ''root cause'' most of the West is interested in. Anyone who thinks Tuesday's events might strengthen the international community's resolve to resist terrorism is overlooking the fact that among the Europeans, the Canadians and New Zealanders, the British and Australian press, CNN and the New York Times and a large majority of the Democratic Party, the urge to surrender is palpable.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
God, I love Mark Steyn, one of the best columnists, period, now that Michael Kelly has passed away. Here he is on the bombing of the UN in Baghdad.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 9:45 AM