Dithering makes UN impotent


March 19, 2011

Next to Barack Obama, the United Nations has come dangerously close to being the biggest hypocrite on the planet.

This money-sucking consortium of pontificating navel-gazers has once again dithered while real people are dying for a cause we have encouraged them to believe in – democracy. At the last moment, they have come through. Let’s hope it is not too late.

Libya’s answer to Caligula, Moammar Gadhafi, is set to massacre freedom fighters who dared to say “enough” after 41 years of madness, megalomania and murder. The people who are about to die call their Alamo by the name of Benghazi.

Does the UN have an obligation to act expeditiously here? Yes.

Remember Rwanda? That’s the place where nearly a million people died by bullet and machete and hundreds of thousands of women were raped. It wasn’t as if the UN didn’t see it coming. Both the organization’s special rapporteur on arbitrary killings and its force commander, Romeo Dallaire, gave early warnings of the atrocity. The Security Council kept sipping the Perrier and did nothing – until the grave digging was finished.

Over time, lots of time, bad conscience set in. Ten years later, the planet’s political mucky-mucks gathered at the World Summit in 2005 with entourages nearly as big as their egos. They collectively and solemnly swore to protect people at risk from “genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

The UN had a partner in this noble if tardy declaration. The African Union also promised to take action if an AU member failed to protect its population from genocide or war crimes.

Just to underline its new resolve, the UN adopted text on the Responsibility to Protect – they really meant it you see. Well, sort of. Because at the UN, you adopt a resolution but it really isn’t adopted. It is just goes to the next level of institutional baffle-gab – the implementation phase. At the UN, even things that are done have a way of never being done.

As with Rwanda, the UN knows what it is dealing with here. This is the same Moammar Gadhafi who ordered the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 270 people. Then he got the bomber back from a Scottish jail by making an oil deal with the British government. Now he’s sending his tanks, planes and soldiers to Benghazi to “cleanse” Libya of his detractors while warning western “clowns” to stay out of his country.

Some countries might yet eschew the dilatory abdication of the UN and ride to the rescue of people who want what we have – freedom. The UN, though, dithered until the very last moment. Let’s hope the West has something better to offer the rebels of Benghazi than a decent burial.

If the UN comes through too late, here is a piece of art that should never hang again at UN headquarters in New York. It is a tapestry based on the painting Guernica by Pablo Picasso. On April 26, 1937, German and Italian warplanes bombed the Basque town killing hundreds of defenceless people. The artist painted the picture as a permanent reminder of the horrors and injustice of brute force.

Let’s hope that UN has found its courage in the nick of time.

E-mail mharris@cfra.com

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