None of this is good news for the long-tenured Annan, who is scheduled to remain in office until 2006. But Kofi is fighting back, collecting billions of dollars to refurbish the 58-year-old U.N. headquarters building in New York -- and build a new 35-story complex next door for an even bigger world-governing bureaucracy. He dismisses his troubles as the consequence of a "conservative, anti-U.N. rabble" -- just trying to make trouble for an international institution that they never liked anyway.
But what no one should ignore is the scathing internal critique proffered by the United Nations' own "high level" panel on U.N. reform. Though the committee's findings fall short -- ignoring for example, the Security Council's anti-Israeli bias, the Human Rights Commission's embrace of dictators or the Refugee Organization's unwillingness to keep terrorists from overtly using U.N.-administered camps in the Middle East as recruiting centers -- they are telling nonetheless. The United Nations's failures in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Congo are as inescapable as the well-documented collapse of the Iraqi disarmament program in the 1990s that led to the current U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Unfortunately, because the authors of the report are U.N. bureaucrats and the United Nations is their sinecure, the committee is unwilling to suggest the unthinkable: doing away with the Security Council as irrelevant to the realities of the 21st century. Yet that is the inescapable conclusion for the democracies bearing the burden of an increasingly expensive, moribund bureaucracy that has proven itself inadequate to the task for which it was founded.
The anemic prescription for improvement -- a recognition that pre-emptive military action is legitimate -- as long as it passes a U.N.-test for approval -- is ludicrous. So, too, is its proposal to expand the Security Council from 15 to 24 members. Courage, once Dan Rather's favorite word, demanded a more realistic proposal: keep the General Assembly open as a place to debate how many blankets are needed to help assuage a humanitarian disaster like an earthquake -- and replace the Security Council with a new Democratic Alliance.
Such a proposal will, of course, create great angst from those who believe that the United Nations -- an entity that has up till now found itself unable or unwilling to even define "terrorism" or "democracy" -- can somehow resurrect itself. That should not deter those democracies -- who know well who they are -- from creating an organization that is capable of bringing multilateral action to bear against adversaries like Al Qaeda, or its ilk.
To do less in this window of opportunity invites anarchists like Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and rogue leaders like those in Pyongyang and Tehran, to further adventures. This is the time to scrap the United Nations as we know it today -- and start over so that our children have a better tomorrow.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.