Into this twilight zone walked John Bolton, who set about treating the U.N. itself with a respect few of its long-term denizens have shown. The emblematic moment would be the first day he took the seat as chairman of the Security Council and banged the gavel, on time, to open the meeting. He was the only one there. All the rest were late.
Within the U.N., Bolton was astoundingly effective. On his watch, the Security Council finally got around to asking Iran to stop its nuclear-bomb program, agreed on limited sanctions on North Korea, began at least trying to address the genocide in Sudan, and passed a resolution giving Annan his much-desired cease-fire this summer in Lebanon. Bolton dared to table such issues as the in-house corruption and peacekeeper rape. He even did the U.N. the large favor of helping to keep Venezuela's sulfur-sniffing Chavez off the Security Council.
Unfortunately, reform within the U.N. is blocked by a system in which too many have grown comfortable with the customary immunities, secrecy and corruption. And in dealing with real dangers in the world outside Turtle Bay, U.N. actions rarely live up to even the most decisive U.N. words. Despite assorted U.N. resolutions, the nuclear projects of North Korea and Iran have not stopped, the genocide continues in Sudan, and Lebanon now teeters on the edge of a takeover by Hezbollah terrorists re-arming with the help of Syria and Iran.
Bolton's vital contribution, if only we have the wisdom to heed it, has been to highlight the grave failings of the U.N. itself - an outfit that shows every sign of being beyond anyone's power to mend.
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