Syria is getting away with murder in Lebanon, and the United Nations Security Council is letting it happen. The resolution the Council passed last Thursday might have been minimally adequate if something less were at stake than the sovereignty of a United Nations member country and the lives of some of its best and most courageous people.
Despite the intransigence, the Security Council declined to impose sanctions on Damascus, instead settling Thursday for extending the investigation for six months. Secretary-General Kofi Annan needs to ensure that whoever leads the probe is as tough-minded and competent as Mehlis, who agreed at the start of his work to serve only until the end of this year. If Assad keeps stonewalling the United Nations, the world body needs to impose sanctions. Political assassinations must be punished, not just decried.
SADDAM HUSSEIN'S challenge to international security was exceptional in part because of his flagrant defiance of resolutions by the United Nations Security Council and his equally crude actions to obstruct the work of U.N. inspectors. Now another Arab Baathist dictator, Bashar Assad, has adopted the same tactics. Not only has Mr. Assad sought to obstruct a U.N. investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, but his agents in Lebanon are continuing to murder Syria's Lebanese critics.