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Where is the United Nations?

Here we are on the brink of what could be a most catastrophic nuclear exchange that could cost up to 12 million lives and spread radioactive fallout all around the globe and the United Nations seems to be conspicuously absent.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will travel to India and Pakistan later this week to try and defuse a volatile situation that could lead to all-out war between two nuclear powers.

On Friday at the daily United Nations briefing, the spokesman was asked what the U.N. Security Council was doing to avert a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. He replied that the members had discussed the crisis informally during their most recent working monthly luncheon.

How nice.

The fact is, the U.N. cannot intervene in this situation unless both parties invite international participation. Pakistan has asked the U.N. to get involved, but India has a long tradition of not wanting the international community sticking its nose in a regional conflict.

The spokesman did say, however, that the Secretary-General "supported the bilateral initiatives by a number of countries, including the United States."

It is unfortunate that the world is so close to the unthinkable, yet the body created in the ashes of World War II to resolve such conflicts is merely a bystander in this instance.

We hope that Rumsfeld and Armitage can help ease the tensions in the region, but it would seem to be a hopeless task, much like the unsuccessful trip Secretary of State Colin Powell made to the Middle East recently.

It would seem to us that the United Nations, even with all of its faults and shortcomings, should be able to step in and lend a hand, instead of going to lunch.

James Logue

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