September 20, 2006 | National Review Online

Symposium on United Nations

President Bush said so many of the right words. He was so right to address some of those words not to the assembled “excellencies” of the General Assembly, but directly to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, and Darfur. In his basic message about the nature of freedom, and the need for it, he was — as he has been for years now — so very right. And yet, his speech at the United Nations rang hollow.

Why? Because Bush kept trying to find things to praise about the U.N. itself, as a partner in achieving his vision. That would be the same unrepentant, unreformed, corrupt, and dysfunctional U.N. that opposed him over Iraq, failed to keep peace in Lebanon, has failed to stop genocide in Sudan and is failing spectacularly to stop Iran's nuclear-bomb program. No doubt diplomacy demands a certain amount of polite fiction, but Bush more than discharged that obligation later in the day — with his bizarre toast in praise of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, over lunch. The U.N., with its ranks of despots, its ingrown and unaccountable bureaucracy, and now its platform for the messianic musings of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly proved itself part of the problem, not the solution. To champion the cause of freedom while praising today's U.N. is a very mixed message.

Claudia Rosett is a journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.



International Organizations