The battle over the fate of U.N. chief Kofi Annan. That is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."

About 100 members of Congress are demanding the resignation of Mr. Annan for obstructing the investigation of the oil-for-food scandal. Congress may even vote on withholding American money from the U.N. If Annan does not step down.

The conservative editorial page of "The Wall Street Journal" is leading the media charge to remove Annan, citing his dismal record of oversight on atrocities committed on his watch and also corruption.

Predictably, the liberal "New York Times" is Annan's biggest defender in the media, making the case that the man is the victim of a conservative smear campaign and that he's not responsible for the chaos over Saddam and the Balkans and the Sudan and other places, the member countries of the U.N. are.

But the picture's much bigger than Kofi Annan (search). Many liberals believe the USA must conform to a world view of problem solving. That is we cannot act unless the world approves of the action. That's at the heart of the Iraq war controversy.

Most conservatives believe that America has the obligation to protect itself against harm by taking action with or without world approval, and some on the right feel the U.N. is not looking out for America.

There's no question Mr. Annan and many U.N. members believe Israel is oppressing the Palestinians and that the U.S. enables Israel. That's the historical genesis of the problems between America and the United Nations.

But now there's worldwide terrorism and the U.N. has no clue about how to deal with it.There's not even a consensus of what terrorism is. Many U.N. countries actually condone attacks on civilians by homicide bombers.

So the Bush administration knows the U.N. will not proactively confront Islamic fascism or even the nuclear violation in North Korea or Iran. The U.N. will not even stop genocide in the Sudan. The organization is simply impotent.

But not to "The New York Times." To that outfit, the U.N. offers a counterweight to the growing power of America and there's a good thing. The "Times" thinks Annan is doing a swell job.

"Talking Points" predicts Kofi Annan will resign sometime next year. The U.N. is too chaotic for him too continue. But America will be blamed for his demise the world over. Once again, we'll be portrayed as the bad guys, and, once again, much of that portrayal will come from forces within this country.

And that's "The Memo."

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

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