The Fall of the UN

Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. His Ba'athist government, however, will not go alone. In a fitting irony, the United Nations is going down with him.

Perhaps the entire UN will not disappear. Those parts devoted to "good works" (i.e., the low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies or those that fight AIDs and malaria or protect children) will remain. The looming chatterbox on New York's East River will also continue to bleat. What died with the Security Council's unwillingness to sanction force to implement its own resolutions on Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction was the decades-old fantasy of the UN as the bedrock of world order.

As we sift the debris of the war to liberate Iraq, it will be important to preserve-the better to understand-the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of security through international law administered by international institutions.

As free Iraqis document the quarter-century nightmare of Saddam's rule, we must not forget who supported this war and who did not, who held that the international community's moral authority was enshrined in pleas for more time for the UN arms inspectors, and who marched against "regime change". In the spirit of post-war reconciliation that diplomats are always keen to engender, we must not reconcile ourselves to the timid, blighted notion that world order requires us to recoil before rogue states that terrorize their citizens and menace our own.