The civilized world would be better off were the United Nations in its present form to disappear. Such views are being increasingly expressed by many people, including sober analysts of the international scene.
As a sentimental youngster, I was in awe of the UN. It represented the best hope for mankind - a global forum created by the Allies after the defeat of Nazism to ensure that the world would never again be threatened by genocidal barbarians. The UN would create an environment in which morality and the rule of law would prevail on the international scene.
I recollect proudly hailing the international body which endorsed the creation of a Jewish state on November 29 1947, when the United States and the fiercely anti-Zionist Soviet Union miraculously voted in unison in support the birth of Israel.
Alas, the dreams and hopes of those early days were soon dashed. Despite its noble charter upholding human rights, the UN has never lived up to its ideals.
The UN has failed abjectly in forestalling terrible tragedies in which millions of people died.
It did provide a gladiatorial arena in which the Western nations and the Soviets could duel with words rather than nuclear weapons. But since the demise of the Soviet Union, the UN has effectively followed the same path as its lapsed predecessor, the League of Nations, displaying impotence in virtually every activity relating to collective security, and thus failing abjectly to forestall terrible tragedies in which millions of people died.
Take the case of Rwanda, which in 1994 underwent the worst genocide since the Nazis. At the time the UN had a sizable presence in that country, but when a debate over the issue at the Security Council bogged down, Kofi Annan recalled the UN peacekeeping forces and in less than 100 days over a million Tutsis were brutally massacred.
Subsequently, the Security Council approved a French-led military intervention, which paradoxically provided a safe haven for the Hutu killers.
The following year, in July 1995, in Srebrenica, Bosnia, a UN battalion in a UN-declared "free zone" handed over 8,000 Moslem civilians to the Serbs, who promptly slaughtered them all.
The UN did not convene an enquiry to review that terrible atrocity. Instead, Annan, who was later to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, made do with sanctimonious statements.
Ultimately the Yugoslav imbroglio, in which a quarter of a million people were killed, was resolved only after the Americans bypassed the Security Council and intervened directly.
The most damning UN hypocrisy has been the outrageous double standard employed against Israel. Here the humbug is nakedly exposed: Even with Iraq on the agenda, the UN continued to spend more time condemning Israel than on any other single issue.
I recollect asking Annan three years ago at a public meeting in Jerusalem whether he appreciated the deep misgivings most Jews shared in relation to the UN because of its bias against Israel. Annan conceded that if he were Jewish he would also feel uncomfortable with the UN track record, and undertook to ensure that the double standard directed against Israel never recurred.
Under Annan's regime, the UN has dramatically intensified its bias and venom against Israel.
Needless to say, Annan broke his undertaking. Indeed, under his regime the UN has dramatically intensified its bias and venom against Israel, as exemplified by the blurring of distinctions between Israeli acts of self-defense and the atrocities of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Blatant bias was displayed in October 2000 by the disgraceful refusal of the UN to provide Israelis with copies of videos taken when Hizbullah terrorists intruded into Israeli territory and kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
Of course this was consistent with the unwillingness of UNIFIL to resist terrorist incursions into Israeli territory even after Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon.
The ultimate abomination was undoubtedly the UN-hosted conference in Durban in September 2001, which degenerated into a pit of racism reminiscent of a Nuremberg Nazi rally. That UN-sponsored event will be recorded in history as the launching pad for the new global wave of so-called anti-Zionist anti-Semitism.
Over the past year the hypocrisy and double standards of the UN have reached their nadir. Syria, a haven for terrorist groups whose UN representative still insists that Jews use the blood of Christian children to bake unleavened bread, was elected to the presidency of the Security Council.
A few months later the hypocrisy was magnified when that virtuous standard bearer for human rights, Libya, was elected to chair the UN Human Rights Commission. If that was not sufficiently bizarre, Iraq was subsequently appointed to chair the UN Commission on Disarmament, a role the Iraqis themselves declined because it would have provided the international media with a festival not to their benefit.
The reality is that the UN, the body created to promote human rights, has always closed its eyes to the highly visible atrocities committed by its members, even against their own citizens.
To name a few current examples: The Russian response to the Chechnya insurrection and terrorism when the capital city of Grozny was razed to the ground, leaving behind some 700,000 corpses; the Chinese suppression of Tibetan independence; the slavery and killing of over a million Christians and animists by the Islamic government in Sudan; the terrible crimes committed by Saddam Hussein against his own people, and the massacre of over 250,000 Algerians in a bitter civil war, not to mention all the other tyrannical regimes who deny their subjects the most elementary human rights.
The European democracies, except when directly involved, have always tended to bury their heads in the sand and abstain on issues where they should have displayed moral leadership. In most conflicts, rather than identifying the aggressors they endorsed moral equivalence by repeating mindless cliches about cycles of violence.
In this maelstrom of amorality Annan presents himself as the spokesman for collective security and peace. Yet despite occasional selective endorsement of non-UN-sanctioned forcible removal of tyrants, he had the gall to declare as illegitimate the US-led war against Saddam Hussein the man who killed over a million of his own citizens and whose access to nuclear and chemical weapons threatens mankind.
To those with a sense of history, the exploitation of the Security Council as a vehicle to undermine US efforts to neutralize Saddam Hussein inevitably calls to mind the League of Nations. History will record that the same countries whose policies of appeasement paved the way for Hitler in the 1930s are the ones who, without taking account of the moral issues involved, encouraged the Iraqis to believe that the Americans would be stymied, and, by so doing, made war inevitable.
The breakdown in the Security Council created the grotesque situation in which the president of the US and his secretary of state were obliged to canvass, curry favor and even bribe tin-pot states like Guinea and Cameroon.
Clearly an organization purporting to provide global collective security becomes compromised if, in order to proceed, its leading members are obliged to exploit cynicism, corruption and hypocrisy.
It was therefore painful in recent days to hear British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his foreign minister once more trotting out all the worn cliches about the importance of the UN and its vital role in maintaining collective security.
President Bush had previously explicitly warned that failure to enforce its resolutions on Iraq would make the UN irrelevant. So it was particularly regrettable that in his address on the eve of the war, in deference to the political needs of his loyal British ally, Bush referred to a possible future role for the UN, thus implying that it could be re-empowered.
No organization dominated by dictatorships and tyrannies can ever be a force for good.
Surely the time has come to face reality and bite the bullet by stating explicitly that despite the noble hopes and aspirations of those who created the UN in 1945, the organization has proven a dismal failure and its days are over. It should also be unequivocally proclaimed that no organization dominated by dictatorships and tyrannies can ever be a force for good.
Therefore as the sole superpower and leading democracy in the world, the US should now consider creating a new multilateral association of states limited to countries that are broadly democratic and display respect for human rights. Such a body could also provide genuine collective responsibility and serve as a vehicle to promote democracy throughout the world.
Autocratic regimes would be pressured to reform in order to qualify for inclusion whilst outright dictatorships and repressive regimes would be isolated.
When the Europeans recover from their lapse into irresponsibility and realize the folly of appeasing rather than facing up to the enemies of civilized mankind, they will hopefully also recognize the benefits of participating in such a voluntary association of democratic nations.
It would make far greater sense than providing artificial life support for a dysfunctional body that enables tyrannies and rogue states to influence collective policies impacting on the life or death of millions of people.