WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After the terrorist attacks of 2001, my colleague at Freedom Alliance, Tom Kilgannon and I concluded that wining the war on terror would require progress on two fronts: on the battlefield and within the International Community -- meaning the United Nations. Since Tom has young children, we agreed that I would cover the military side of this campaign and he would follow the "progress" on the diplomatic front. It really wasn't a fair division of labor. I get to hang around with heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan and poor Kilgannon has been forced to consort with the likes of Kofi Annan and his corrupt cronies at the United Nations in an effort to find out what they are up to.
This week Kilgannon went into the belly of the beast, the 2005 World Summit in New York -- a gathering of nearly 170 Heads of State celebrating the United Nations' 60th anniversary. Hugo Chavez, a protege of dictator Fidel Castro, is a favorite among the delegates and media. Among the notably absent: Gerhard Schroeder; home in Germany campaigning to keep his job; and Jacques Chirac, home in Paris nursing himself back to health.
The absence of these notables from the first-string line-up of Ameri-phobes hasn't diminished the anti-U.S. sentiment an iota. Immediately after President George W. Bush addressed the General Assembly this week, there were still plenty of Bush-bashers, globalists, environmental radicals, dictators and haughty hate mongers lined up at the microphones to swipe -- directly and indirectly -- at American sovereignty, democratic ideals and the need for a unified stance on combating terror.
"Terrorism fed by anger and despair," President Bush said, "has come to Tunisia, to Indonesia, to Kenya, to Tanzania, to Morocco, to Israel, to Saudi Arabia, to the United States, to Turkey, to Spain, to Russia, to Egypt, to Iraq and the United Kingdom." Even those countries that have not been attacked directly, he reminded them, have had their citizens killed and maimed by Jihadist terror in other nations.
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.