By the time Lyndon Johnson became president, the U.N. was fast becoming the anti-American forum it is today. Johnson's efforts to use the international body to build support for U.S. and allied military operations in Vietnam -- and to use the U.N. as a place to negotiate an end to the war -- were ultimately scuttled, along with his presidency.
President Richard Nixon came to office knowing the U.N. was an "adverse environment." He once told me he considered it to be enemy territory. "I didn't care if they liked me," he said. "I just wanted to be sure they respected the United States." Nixon used the threat of cutting off funds to various U.N. entities to gain leverage on issues he deemed important. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush -- a former U.N. ambassador -- took the same approach.
President Jimmy Carter was obsequious in every appearance at the U.N. Bill Clinton was little better. Madeleine Albright, who served as Clinton's U.N. ambassador and went on to become his secretary of state, was a vocal proponent of relying on the U.N. to deter proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Her colorful zeal for U.N. effectiveness yielded nuclear weapons in North Korea and Pakistan and the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
President Barack Obama has gone even further. His U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, is a Madeleine Albright protege. It's clear from his remarks at this week's General Assembly session that the O-Team's naivete about the global body's effectiveness and his legendary hubris are unabated. So, too, is his penchant for revisionism.
In his lecture at the assembly, Obama enthusiastically endorsed new "measures" by the U.N. to deal with Tehran's nuclear weapons program -- though nothing the U.N. does has any effect. He used the words "I" and "me" no fewer than a dozen times in the course of three paragraphs but neglected to mention his assurance that the six-month U.N.-sanctioned operation in Libya would "last days, not months." And in a surreal description of what really happened, he said, "Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him." Try telling the Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden that it wasn't a violent encounter.
Worse still, Obama appears to have been completely blindsided by the well-telegraphed effort to have the United Nations create an "independent Palestinian state." His hastily arranged meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did nothing to ameliorate the latest diplomatic debacle.
Protecting the American people from the dangers we face and salvaging American credibility from U.N. irrelevancy are presidential responsibilities. We should pray our next head of state is up to the task.
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.