WASHINGTON, D.C. -- On Wednesday, Aug. 9, when Israel finally launched a major ground operation into Lebanon aimed at crushing Hezbollah terrorists, there was a collective gasp from the striped-pants set at U.N. Headquarters in New York. But this offensive wouldn't have been necessary if the unaccountable, America-bashing, Jew-hating, tea sippers at the United Nations had the integrity to act in accord with their own charter.
More than a month ago, Hezbollah terrorists crossed the Lebanese border, kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and started a daily barrage of Iranian-supplied rockets, missiles, even sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles against Israeli towns and cities. All but ignored by the so-called "western media" -- more than 1,500 Israeli casualties were inflicted by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's "rain of steel."
For 30 days, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) responded with air and naval strikes and limited ground operations against known and suspected Hezbollah positions in Lebanon -- and were pummeled in the press for a "disproportionate response." The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, naively hoping for a "forceful international reaction" to Hezbollah's aggression, adopted a "go-slow" approach and reigned in the IDF. To some, Olmert's caution appeared wise. It was not.
On Aug. 4, Kofi Annan's flaks leaked word to willing press puppets that a "diplomatic breakthrough" had been achieved to "end the conflict in Lebanon." In fact -- Washington and Paris had reached only a tentative agreement on the general shape and size of a multi-national force (MNF) to "supplement" the Lebanese Army and the ineffective U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). But on Aug. 8, Olmert learned what he should have known all along -- the United Nations will not stand up to Iranian supported and directed terrorism.
Four days after promoting a U.N. accord that would "end the bloodshed," the deal was dead -- shot in the head by Arab "leaders" who viewed a powerful, well-armed, European-led intervention force -- along the lines of Kosovo in 1999 and today in Afghanistan -- to be an "affront to Lebanese sovereignty." The new U.N. proposal: an immediate cease-fire, withdrawal of all Israeli troops, followed by the introduction of 15,000 Lebanese Army soldiers along the border, "backed up" by the same UNIFIL contingent that had done nothing to stop Hezbollah aggression in the first place.
If Olmert was surprised at this outcome, he shouldn't be. It's just the latest in a long string of failed U.N. initiatives emanating from the most expensive debating club on the planet. Since Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon on May 24, 2000, there have been 40 U.N. Security Council Resolutions on "the situation in the Middle East" -- an average of oneevery two months. This year there havealready been six -- and none of them are worth the paper they are printed on to Hezbollah -- or their masters in Tehran.
As Tom Kilgannon points out in his new book, "Diplomatic Divorce: Why America Should End Its Love Affair With the United Nations," the UNIFIL contingent now being so highly touted in the big blue building in Turtle Bay was established by U.N. Security Council 425 in 1978 "for the purpose of confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restoring international peace and security and assisting the government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area." Like so much else of what the United Nations does, it has been a miserable, impotent failure.
Based in Naqoura, Lebanon and commanded by French Maj. Gen. Alain Pellegrini, UNIFIL did indeed accurately report on the Israeli withdrawal -- but did nothing to stop Iran and Syria from turning Hezbollah into the best-armed terrorist force in the world. With an annual budget of $97.5 million and contingents from China, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy and Poland, the blue helmets turned a blind eye to tens of thousands of Iranian weapons, rockets, anti-tank mines and missiles being trucked across the Syrian border into the Biqa' Valley and offloaded from ships in Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese ports like Tyre. A month into a shooting war, the United Nations has yet to condemn Syrian and Iranian complicity in the carnage.
For proponents of "multilateralism," the present conflict has been a missed opportunity to prove that the "international community" could respond in a coherent, forceful manner to a serious threat to peace. Unprovoked aggression, like the Hezbollah attacks that precipitated the present conflict, is after all, the raison d'etre for which the United Nations was created. Yet, the same day the bodies of Iranian Revolutionary Guards were found among dead Hezbollah terrorists, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman proclaimed, "Iran is a stabilizing factor in the Middle East."
Confronted with diplomatic dithering and "globalist" lunacy such as this, the Israelis have belatedly decided to do what could not be done in the corridors of confusion at the United Nations -- to crush Hezbollah's military power. It's likely to be a costly endeavor.
History and war are cruel pedants. Those who know too little of the former are likely to have too much of the latter. The Olmert government has learned the hard lesson that the United Nations can't be counted on in the clinch. Hopefully, as we gauge Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, Washington will come to the same conclusion.
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.