Mark Steyn

Leave it to America

There are now calls for greater UN involvement in Iraq. That's the last thing the country needs, says Mark Steyn

New Hampshire

Usually in Iraq, the Westerners getting blown up are American and British soldiers. So the world’s press, lacking any local angle and not being terribly interested in the poor bloody infantry at the best of times, cuts to the chase: the death of Private Wossname is yet more evidence of what a disaster Bush has made of Iraq …bogged down …quagmire …lessons of Vietnam, etc., etc.

But the fellow who blew up the Canal Hotel left aid workers from many lands among the dead and injured, and so for once the media took time to mourn the loss of the individuals involved. Among the victims was the dapper UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. As an example of his élan, the National Post of Canada produced the following anecdote: ‘Despite heading up missions in some of the most dangerous places in the world, the debonair Mr Vieira de Mello rarely showed fear.

‘About two years ago, he and a group of UN officials and journalists were on a UN plane heading into Jakarta. The landing was suddenly aborted as the pilot walked into the main cabin to borrow a cellphone so he could call the Israeli plane manufacturer in order to figure out how to deploy the landing gear.

‘While many grew increasingly agitated, Mr Vieira de Mello kept on talking and joking, remaining unflappable throughout the episode.’

Can this really be true? The UN entrusts the fate of its most stellar officials to fellows who don’t know how to fly the plane? Over the years I’ve flown a lot, on some very ropy twin-props and in very dodgy conditions and with some very bumpy landings. But I’ve never had the pilot stroll into the cabin and say he can’t figure out the operating manual. Given that Indonesia is several hours ahead of the Zionist Entity, they appear to have been lucky that this incident occurred during Israeli office hours and that the customer-service guy hadn’t gone to lunch.

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