In a rare Security Council meeting in which Heads of State represented their nations, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, referring to the July 7th Jihadist bombings in London, said, "Terrorism will not be defeated until our determination is as complete as theirs, our defense of freedom is as absolute as their fanaticism, our passion for democracy as great as their passion for tyranny." Blair wants a resolution that would ban incitement to terrorism. Yet, the United Nations can't even agree on a definition of the word.
The effect of the Bush-Blair pronouncements on terrorism was underwhelming. The Times of Oman, for example, citing "sources" at the UN, observed that the president's speech "was notable for a move away from past rhetoric challenging world leaders to get tough on terrorism and a far cry from his 2002 U.N. address when he warned world leaders to support the threat of military force against Iraq or risk becoming irrelevant."
Unfortunately, there is little in this 60th Anniversary gathering to indicate that the United Nations is becoming more relevant in the war on terror. Few other leaders addressed the issue and as usual, many used the forum to blame America first -- and western ideas in general -- for their country's lack of freedom and opportunity.
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's dictatorial president-for-life, warmly welcomed as an "elder statesman," was applauded for claiming that he needed greater U.N. development aid to address extreme poverty and hunger and that he was doing all he could, "by redistributing land to the majority of our citizens who had been condemned to conditions of squalor by years of colonialism and its vestiges." He did not mention -- nor did any of his avid fans at the United Nations -- that before his land-grab from white farmers, there was no famine.
Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new President of Iran, drew a hearty ovation when he said that "the principles of democracy and ethics should prevail in all organs and functions of the United Nations." Nobody even laughed when this head of a police state insisted that the U.N. should help "institutionalize justice." Ahmadinejad, who apparently got his start in politics by taking American hostages, was widely commended by his colleagues for demanding that, "the host country," meaning the United States, " should not enjoy any right or privilege over the rest of the membership and the organization and its headquarters must be easily accessible for all." He did not offer to move the U.N. headquarters to Tehran.
The delegates saved their warmest appreciation for Secretary General Kofi Annan. Despite a report last week showing his tenure at the head of the U.N. to be the most corrupt in the 60-year history of the organization, he was embraced by the attendees for lucidly pointing out the international body's greatest challenge. They were grateful to know that the United Nations' No. 1 problem isn't terrorism, corruption, mismanagement or lack of accountability -- it's lack of money!
According to Annan, unless the United Nations gets more money from developed nations, "states of all kinds might increasingly resort to self-help." To prevent nations from helping themselves to self sufficiency, we in the western world are supposed to meet our "Millennium Development Goals." French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and delegations from Brazil, Chile, Spain and Germany immediately announced that they would find new ways to raise development assistance funds -- among them a new travel tax aboard their state-subsidized airlines.
Hopefully we won't try that. While the U.N. "fundraiser" was going on this week in New York, two more U.S. flag-carriers -- Delta and Northwest -- filed for bankruptcy. That could make meeting our goal a bit tough. According to Annan, America's "target" is about $80 billion annually. This beast has a very big belly. Sure hope Kilgannon doesn't have to walk home.
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.