- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

The League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations, is now ugly history for its failure to react to major threats to the peace.
Formed in 1920 as a result of World War I, is started with some small initial successes. It settled such disputes as the Swedish-Finnish argument over the Aland Islands in 1923, guaranteed the security of Albania, and prevented the outbreak of war between Greece and Bulgaria in 1925. In addition, like the current United Nations, it gave aid to refugees, helped suppress the drug traffic, pioneered surveys of worldwide health, and even extended financial aid to needy states.
But when it came to major threats to peace, the League was conspicuous by its absence. When Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931, the League waited months before appointing the Lytton commission to investigate. By the time they arrived, the Japanese had occupied three of Manchuria's five provinces. Months later they reported back. But by that time, the Japanese had aready installed a puppet government and their aggression was complete, one that lasted until the Japanese defeat in World War II.
When Italy's Benito Mussolini attacked Ethiopia in 1935, the League reacted in the same passive way. Haile Selassie made an impassioned plea to the League to come to his ancient nation's rescue, but the answer was ineffective sanctions against Italy, without any threat of force. Again, Italy maintained control of Ethiopia until its defeat in World War II, and the League suffered another major defeat.
That was followed by League passivity as it watched Adolf Hitler take the Rhineland, then Austria, then Czechoslovakia, leading up to World War II. The now irrelevant League spent the war in London, only to close down at the end of the conflict, a victim of the failure of collective security.
The United Nations has begun to follow a similar path of irrelevance, leading up to its possible demise. Having written 16 resolutions against Saddam Hussein, none of which has been enforced, it has now passed Resolution 1441 threatening "serious consequences," which means war, against Iraq unless it conforms. Chief Inspector Hans Blik has already indicated there is no present desire in Iraq to conform, leaving the final decision to the Security Council of the United Nations.
The United Nations may have only a few weeks left in its effective life. If anyone of the permanent members France, Russia, China other than the U.S. and Britain, vetoes America's request for military action against Iraq, it will effectively end the almost 60-year reign of the U.N. The alternative is for the members, especially a newly rogue France, to realize it is not protecting the United States, but the entire world.
Failing that, we should ask the United Nations to leave New York and settle either in Geneva, the home of the failed League, or perhaps to move to Paris, where they can establish a new debating society without honor or courage.


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