Baghdad blues

Posted: Aug 22, 2003 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The flatbed truck had been loaded with more than 1,500 pounds of explosives -- a 500-pound bomb, mortar and artillery rounds, landmines, grenades and plastic explosives -- all of which are readily available throughout Iraq.

Nobody attempted to stop and inspect the heavily laden Russian-made truck as it pulled up to the Canal Hotel -- the U.N. headquarters in downtown Baghdad. Unchallenged, the driver parked the lethal load beside the brick wall surrounding the hotel -- and detonated his cargo. The blast killed 25, including the U.N. special representative to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello -- and wounded more than 100 others. Scenes of the carnage, some of it videotaped as the bomb exploded, were broadcast around the world almost instantly.

Within hours, another suicide terrorist boarded a crowded bus in Jerusalem, moved to the center of the packed vehicle and blew himself -- and 21 others -- to pieces. This attack, like the one that preceded it in Baghdad, also wounded more than 100 others -- on the bus and the street. And as in the case of the Iraqi bombing, images of bloody bodies were immediately broadcast around the globe.

President Bush had barely finished expressing his condolences, and his administration's resolve to stay the course in the war on terrorism, before the "blame game" was underway. Media elites in Baghdad, Washington, New York and Crawford, Texas, began asking why U.S. and coalition forces hadn't provided better security for the United Nations -- as though the United States was somehow responsible for the Baghdad attack.

Speaking to the BBC about the Baghdad blast, U.N. spokesman Salim Lone said: "We didn't expect to have to worry so much. (After all), we are humanitarians." He didn't expect to "have to worry" about terrorist attacks! U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "All of us at the United Nations are shocked ... by today's attack." "Shocked!" He also "condemned in the strongest possible terms" the Palestinian suicide terrorist attack in Jerusalem.

Back on Aug. 12, Kofi had also "condemned" two "suicide bombings" in the Israeli town of Rosh Ha'ayin that killed two Israelis and wounded dozens. On Aug. 11, he had "strongly condemned" a Hezbollah rocket attack into northern Israel from Lebanon. On Aug. 5, Annan issued a statement saying he was "horrified" at the "bomb explosion" at Jakarta's Marriott Hotel, which was an "apparent" act of terrorism.

At this point, Kofi and his cronies at the United Nations need to stop talking about their "shock," "horror," "outrage," "dismay" and "surprise," and get on with doing something about it. It's time for the global-government goody-goodies at the United Nations to wake up and smell the coffee. The fanatics who blew themselves and their victims apart in all of these events really are what President Bush called them after the most recent attacks: "the enemies of civilization."

The terrorist groups who perpetrate these attacks have long been coddled by the United Nations -- which has allowed its 58 administered "Refugee Camps" in the Middle East to become recruiting, training and logistics support bases for terrorist organizations. The groups carry names like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Islamic Brotherhood -- and a dozen or more other names around the globe. But they aren't all dancing to the beat of some terror mastermind.

They operate more like a modern fast-food franchise. Individual members are screened at the local level, sent to training at a "Terror U" -- like the camps Osama bin Laden ran in Afghanistan -- and then return home to become "martyrs." None of this could be done without the complicity of governments like those in Tehran, Damascus and Tripoli. And yet, for years, the United Nations, which has been unable to even craft a definition of terrorism, has treated the dictators who run these capitals as misguided children rather than criminal benefactors of terror.

If indeed the truck used in the Baghdad attack did originate in Syria, it calls into question the sincerity of anyone in Damascus who purports to support the United Nations.

President Bush has said that this war will be fought on many fronts over the course of many years. When it is all over, it is quite possible that it will be given the label of "the 50 Year War." It wouldn't hurt for our friends at home to accept that reality, as well.

Last week, Attorney General John Ashcroft was forced to take time off from fighting the war on terror to embark on a 12-city tour of the United States to encourage support for the PATRIOT Act and help to dispel the myths and unwarranted fears that the ACLU has spread about the law.

The Democrats aiming to replace George Bush in the White House have taken to saying, "I told you not to go to war in Iraq," even though some voted for it. And now the media is carping about the "Iraqi quagmire." On a single day last week, The New York Times ran five articles in the editorial and op-ed pages critical of the Bush administration. Two came from their in-house columnists, two from guest columnists and one was a staff editorial.

The correct response to terrorists who want to die while killing you and me isn't mollycoddling. It isn't to invent new names for homicide. And it isn't to blame America because the United Nations in Baghdad didn't want "too many" U.S. troops guarding their headquarters.

If the United Nations wants to help prevent more of these murders, the members will help the United States, Britain and Australia hunt down the organizers, cut off their money and make it clear to those in Damascus and Tehran that there will be terrible consequences if they continue to harbor and support terrorists.