Debra J. Saunders

 Some attention, if understated, was directed to the root of the lack of security: Many U.N. personnel thought that they would not be targets. And they adhered to the dangerous theory that they would be safer away from the protection of the U.S.-led coalition.

 As the report noted, top U.N. officials "appeared to be blinded by a conviction that U.N. personnel and installations would not become a target of attack, despite clear warnings to the contrary ... It is, therefore, fair to say that this false sense of security was a state of mind that was shared by all the senior U.N. political and humanitarian staff in Iraq."

 The worst of it is that the U.N. victims were good people trying to bring order and hope to a devastated people. Yet their senseless deaths gave the forces of terror a victory as the United Nations pulled out international workers whom it determined it could not protect.

 The lesson is clear: It is a mistake to believe that good intentions can protect anyone from terror. Good intentions only protect people in a rational universe. Good deeds can't protect do-gooders when the Taliban and al Qaeda have labeled aid workers as legitimate targets.

 Being on the right side didn't protect the Red Cross from an October attack that killed 12. It can't protect the United Nations. It can't protect Spain. It can't protect U.S. troops and Iraqi forces who are trying to establish a free Iraq. It can't protect Muslims. It can't protect children.

 The United Nations learned the hard way that it could distance itself from U.S. forces and only increase the danger.

 Now, the Bush administration is pushing for an increased U.N. presence. In that the free world is terror's target, the United Nations would be a welcome ally, with a presence that might give peace-minded Iraqis some reassurance.

 But the United Nations can prevail only if its leaders have a solid understanding of the enemy. Otherwise, there will be another attack, followed by another withdrawal.

 Not understanding the mindless blood lust of terror and not being outraged at it are the surest ways of fueling the inferno.

Debra J. Saunders

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