Though the voice of power politics sometimes sounds louder than the voice of reason, the United Nations is the nearest thing the world has to an international forum. Last week, when the U.S. went before the Security Council to seek an affirmation for its intervention in Lebanon, it found itself seriously on the defensive there for almost the first time.

The U.N. corridors and lounges on Manhattan's East River reflected a gathering tension. The Iraqi delegate, whom the Soviet Union tried unsuccessfully to unseat, remained at his post, lonely and forlorn, ignored...

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