i wrote this op-ed for any college journal that will accept it, but thought i'd share it with you all (bored underway, all my quals are finished for this cruise and video games/books not doing it like they used to a month ago) and get your opinion on it.... UN Losing Its Legitimacy The myth of the UN Security Council holding much weight anywhere in the world outside of Europe will likely collapse under the enormous weight of tragic reality this month. Five crises, outside of the ongoing insurrection in Iraq, will substantially highlight how ineffective the world body's central power platform is in the post 9/11 world. Despite Kofi Annan's protestations that the UN is adapting to and evolving in the new world order created by the war on terrorism and the Bush doctrine of preemption, the empty promises made by him and other advocates of the UN are rendered even more hollow by real-time events. Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Sudan's genocidal campaign against the Darfur people, Syria's interference and dominance of Lebanese politics and national determination and the deteriorating security situation in Kashmir, Pakistan and Afghanistan are all proving to be challenges the UN is hardly up to facing, let alone handling or even influencing. The cold, hard reality is that the UN's uselessness in these situations is magnified by greed (France and Russia in Iran, China in Sudan), policy flaws (America towards Kashmir and Pakistan, China towards its North Korean allies) and regional hostilities fueled by alliances (America is not trusted in Lebanon or Syria, partly by the invasion of Iraq but more so by its unabashed support of Sharon era Israel), serious impediments whose responsibility lies squarely at the feet of the five permanent members of the Security Council. A degree of blame should be reserved for Kofi Annan, who has shrunk from being an effective world leader to becoming a greatly marginalized figure in the grand scheme of geopolitical events. Instead of calling for an international intervention to halt the clearest case of genocide in a decade in Sudan, (as he has alluded to, allowed, encouraged or openly supported on several occasions in his term (Kosovo, Afghanistan, Haiti, Congo, respectively) the same man who did nothing to stop Rwanda's genocide is repeating history, at great cost to the people of Darfur. The UN's special representative to Darfur recently claimed in a report to the Security Council that the Sudanese and their militia allies had halted attacks on civilians, an outrageous departure from the truth compiled by African Union monitors, humanitarian aid workers and worldwide media reports over the past month. Annan has allowed Afghanistan to descend into turmoil and armed conflict again, quietly accepting American and NATO incompetence without so much as a word of protest to the world. He's totally failed to convince the Iranians to give up their destabilizing nuclear weapons program, a dangerous failure to this point that if left unimproved will pave the way for a near future conflict between Israel, America and Iran over their newborn nuclear arsenal. He has done little to nothing to assist efforts to reform, democratize and stabilize China, for fear of antagonizing the Communist regime there. A failure of moral leadership, vision and diplomacy rests on Annan's shoulders, an enormous defeat for a man who once seemed destined to rescue and reform the UN in light of its past failures. Aside from the continuing struggle to stabilize Iraq, the five crises listed above are all areas a strong UN could have a positive role in, but the UN of today is far weaker than it was even in the darkest days of Bosnia and Somalia. Since America arguably ignored the Security Council's wishes (a course of action that is debated because of the wording of resolutions on Saddam's actions and promises to the Council, revolving on whether America just enforced the resolutions that few others wished to or if it went off on its own tangent) on Iraq, some within the UN and the EU claim this is the consequence of George Bush's actions. There may be some merit to these charges, but the revealing truth is that the UN has lost its capacity for handling these crises effectively, mainly due to its own incompetence and the various conditions of paralysis that the Security Council's permanent members inflict upon it on a wide array of issues. Examine the Security Council's likely response to the five trouble spots above and a brutal pattern emerges: inaction and weakness. A strongly worded action towards Syria from a resolution sponsored by France and America will likely be toothless, with America tied up in Iraq and France unwilling to use force, Syria will likely continue its illegal control of Lebanon's security situation and its government. More economic sanctions will add little pressure to a determined, potentially emboldened Syria. One can argue this is partly due to the ineffective nature of the sanctions themselves, yet it is more due to Syria not being exacted a high enough cost for its oppressive activities. Security Council action on the Islamic terrorist activities and Indian oppression of Kashmir, which fuel instability in Pakistan, in turn further strengthening anti-government, pro-Taliban forces in Afghanistan, will lead to little progress. The reason is simple in spite of its seemingly complex nature: America and NATO nations lack the diplomatic willingness to assuredly bring Pakistan and India into a peace deal over Kashmir, let alone providing peacekeepers to ensure a successful implementation of peace. America cannot and will not push Pres. Musharraf of Pakistan to toughen up on the very Islamic radicals he utilizes to wage war against India's occupation of Kashmir. To do so would invite further destabilization of Pakistan and even more determined attempts to assassinate him, thus ensuring a major and grave recalibration of US-Pakistani relations with a new, less friendly Pakistani leadership in place. Finally, with the fundamentalist campaign against Kashmir and secular forces in Pakistan, the Taliban grow stronger with experienced recruits and allies, strengthening an already powerful group that is set to destabilize Afghanistan in the near future, in light of the restrained NATO presence on the ground there and the apparent lack of constructive and forward thinking leadership there (both Afghan and American/NATO). Iran is set for a confrontation with its international observers and opponents over its nuclear weapons program later this month. If Iran continues its push, it will have nuclear weapons capability very soon. A Security Council resolution created to solve this crisis would face a high degree of opposition from China and Russia, perhaps even France. Even if somehow the US and Britain could convince the others to support a resolution, it would likely be watered down and useless in the face of the dangerous crisis sure to erupt over Iran's nukes. The very idea that Russia, let alone China, would support a military operation to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities is nearly impossible to imagine, and certainly impossible to view as probable. That leaves Israel and/or America acting unilaterally, an act of desperate preemption that would guarantee a conflict, perhaps even a true war, between Iran and its enemies. Diplomacy thus far has been ineffective, it appears a nuclear armed Israel guarantees a nuclear armed Iran, a frightening reality that the Iranian hardliners seem fully intent on creating. North Korea has broken every major agreement it has ever made with any nation aside from China, and its track record of lies, deception and outright aggression will in all likelihood only continue. They will get their nuclear weapons, despite the six nation talks regularly held every few months. The consequences are the most dire of all these situations, because North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons will turn a terrible situation into its worst possible incarnation instantly. Japan and perhaps even South Korea will arrange to have their own nuclear weapons, sparking a furious arms race around Asia, in a way missile defense could never come close to. North Korea's constant instability and aggression guarantee uncertainty and nervous trigger fingers across the region, raising the already high chances of war to near certain levels. The UN has little influence here, and China appears unlikely to support diplomatic, economic or military action against its ally and neighbor. Lastly, the tragedy of Darfur will be the latest bitter example of UN failure. How tens of thousands of people could die as nations chose inaction and feigned concern is not a mystery to observers of international events, its only the latest example of Africa's never-ending tragedy of war, genocide, AIDS, famine, poverty and oppression, a series of ills that will continue until the powerful nations of the world choose to take notice and take action. Those responsible for the Darfur genocide will likely never face a war crimes tribunal, and the UN will highlight the deaths of innocents, ignoring the "G" word that paralyzes the average person's mind and heart in shock and horror and requires nations to take forceful action. This is the most frustrating and damning of the UN's failures, as Kofi Annan could galvanize world opinion and force action by member nations by becoming a passionate advocate for the genocide survivors, who rightly deserve justice and protection they will probably never have. Instead, he and others at the UN allow member nations, especially the Big Five, to get away with inaction, dooming the survivors to further violence and a massive wave of famine and disease, simply by refusing to use the word that rightfully describes the tragedy unfolding in Darfur. What a tragic shame that the UN, at a time when it could be a great force for change and positive developments in the world, has reached its greatest level of weakness and ineffectiveness. Even opponents of the UN, especially those who oppose the Security Council having a "veto" over America's military actions, will admit that the UN has its uses and even its benefits, both to America and to the broader world. Instead, the UN is shrinking, weakening and breaking, at the hands of its own leaders and many of the member nations who passionately profess their belief in the UN system. The great truth, looming darkly over everything in the world now, is that that UN system is broken. Who broke it may not seem to be an important issue, but it must become public knowledge how it was broken, in order to help build a new system or miraculously save the old one, and that begins with recognizing who broke it.