Paul Greenberg

Ambassador/Special Envoy/Man of the World Annan may not actually do anything to help -- indeed, he aids and abets the violent -- but afterward he always remembers to say tsk, tsk. As if he had no real connection with the events he's been party to. He's a kind of genius at acting all innocent and sorrowful, as if he hadn't played any role in what has happened on his watch. Again.

In Syria, too, he has given the world the time and excuse it sought to put off doing anything much to halt the daily passion of Syria's people, who are being slaughtered by both sides, by all sides, in that country's spreading bloodbath.

Syria is but a preview of the world that awaits as American influence wanes. In Washington, an American president "leads from behind," his latest euphemism for not leading at all. Our secretary of state no longer refers to Bashar al-Assad, president and chief executioner of Syria, as a "reformer," but that doesn't mean this country is actually going to do anything much to rid Syria of its homicidal tyrant.

The old coalition of the willing is now unwilling. And when will falters, so does any hope of peace. Instead we get diplomatic platitudes, and the Syrians get death and destruction.

The vacuum of American leadership in the world is now being filled, or rather not filled, by the meaningless resolutions of the United Nations and moral frauds like The Hon. Kofi Annan.

No doubt a world in which the United States plays a leading role is full of dangers and doubts and sacrifice, as every American family with a soldier, sailor, Marine or airman in Iraq or Afghanistan well knows.

But a world in which our president makes excuses instead of policy is not just dangerous but disastrous. See Iran and the nuclear capacity it is about to have -- and employ.

That coming, chaotic world now rushes toward us behind a curtain of diplomatic doubletalk. Its surest sign and symbol: Kofi Annan's unruffled presence as he ushers in still another bloody disaster after the other. Any place he goes should be given fair warning: The worst is soon to come -- first invited, then compounded by his ministrations. The man may be the world's most prominent, distinguished and experienced jinx.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.