Abstract: The article looks at the United Nations as of September 2004. For the United Nations (UN), relevance may be almost as perilous as irrelevance. Although some UN backers revel in the growing global reliance on the world body, now is no time to get smug. These weighty responsibilities are landing on the shoulders of an organization that national governments have deliberately kept weak. The idea that the United Nations can stumble along in its atrophied condition has powerful appeal in capitals around the world--and even in some offices at UN headquarters. None of the permanent Security Council members wants to give up its veto; smaller powers delight in their General Assembly votes, which count as much as those of the major powers; repressive regimes cherish participation in United Nations' human rights bodies, where they can scuttle embarrassing resolutions; and the Western powers whose troops and treasure are needed to strengthen UN peacekeeping have other priorities. To a large extent, the United States and other member states get the United Nations they want and deserve.