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Him Again

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Any hope for peace and light in Syria was doomed from the start as long as a remnant of Bashar al-Assad's murderous regime was allowed to stick around. Now its death throes have become the Syrian people's. But the appointment of Kofi Annan to negotiate a peace there double-doomed that empty hope. For wherever the man goes, massacres are sure to follow. Also corruption, injustice and general chaos.

Kofi Annan is our own era's Joe Btfsplk, the Al Capp character who brings disaster to all around him while he himself goes blithely on without a scratch. Much like The Hon. Kofi Annan returning from another failed mission without a hair out of place.

Syria may be about to fulfill Joe Biden's now forgotten formula for peace in Iraq: Divide the country into three (at least) vivisected parts, one for each ethnic group/militia. Soon enough Bashar al-Assad may have to retreat to Latakia to head a rump Alawite state while Sunni, Shi'a, Kurds, al-Qaida and other assorted terrorist outfits, or just bloody-minded opportunists in general fight over the remains.

All the pieces are being set in place for a repeat of Lebanon's unending civil war (1975-91), this time on Syrian soil. But without the murky resolution.

And the world shrugs. Solemnly, of course. For there's nothing to be done. Certainly not by those who don't really want to do anything. Especially follow a clear, coherent, forceful strategy. That might cost something.

Everything this ever calm, ever dignified diplomat touches has a way of turning into a bloody mess. One year he's presiding over genocide in Rwanda, a couple of years later he performs the same dubious service in the Balkans. Anybody still remember Srebrenica, or is it as forgotten as what happened there? But you can always count on Kofi Annan to be present at the scene of the crime -- as head of a "peacekeeping" mission. Think of him as the mourner whose arrival is the surest indicator of the funeral soon to come.

Whether he is doing business with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, enabling that tyrant to kill still more and calling it oil-for-food, or standing idly by in Sudan's Darfur while the killing goes on, His Excellency Kofi Annan will emerge perfectly groomed, not a spot of blood on his Savile Row suit. He is always able to bear the unbearable suffering of others in style. Like someone passing by the most horrific of crashes in a plush limousine.

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.

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