The continuing catastrophe for the people of Syria isn't likely to end any time soon. At the instigation of Annan's "working group," two separate Syrian opposition delegations went to Moscow this week, seeking concessions from the Kremlin on Russia's backing for Assad. After meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, they left empty-handed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is committed to retaining Russia's naval base at Tartus, Syria. Moscow's toehold in the Mediterranean Sea depends on Assad's remaining in power. That's why Russia will continue to use its veto power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council to block any serious sanctions against the Assad regime.
The Syrian civil war is increasingly deadly -- and a vivid reminder of what happens when the fate of a nation is placed in the hands of dithering diplomats at the United Nations. Everyone ought to know by now that U.N. bluster about serious "consequences for noncompliance" and utopian talk about a "transitional government in Damascus" are futile. And that's in keeping with the U.N. track record on everything from stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them to the disaster in Somalia.
These failures go beyond the intransigence of Beijing and Moscow. They also point to the naivete, incompetence and corruption in the "world body," as the U.N. bills itself.
It was Annan who promised to "clean up" the U.N. after Fox News exposed rampant fraud and bribery in the so-called oil-for-food program, which helped prop up Saddam Hussein's brutal regime in Baghdad. Apparently, he missed some. Two months ago, Fox News reported that the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization shipped sophisticated computer technology to North Korea in violation of U.N.-imposed sanctions. Now it's apparent that more high-tech computers were shipped by WIPO to Iran. Adding insult to injury, the banned shipments were financed by the United Nations Development Programme -- which gets most of its support from U.S. taxpayers.
Last year, the U.S. forked over more than $8 billion to the U.N. -- about 25 percent of the organization's budget. Apparently, that's not enough. This week, the U.N. told its 193 member countries that "donor nations" will have to increase their "contributions," and it has suggested "voluntary taxes" on carbon emissions, billionaires and currency transactions.
No wonder the doctor who admired my dog wants us to get out of the U.N. Maybe we should start by moving the U.N. out of the U.S. How about Mogadishu?
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.