December 18, 2006

kofi United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan gave one of his “farewell” addresses the other day at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri, and used the occasion to chide the Bush administration for “appearing” to conduct its war aginst terror at the expense of human rights. Annan, whose tenure thankfully ends on Dec. 31, rightly noted the U.S. was “in the vanguard of the global human rights movement,” but said, “that lead can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism.” Annan also used the occasion to openly question the Bush administration’s “unilateral” approach to its foreign policy at the expense of the U.N., asking, “Do you need it less today, and does it need you less than 60 years ago?”

Yeah, sure Kofi. Anything you say, pal.

When I first heard about the location Annan chose to give his farewell American address, I was perplexed. After all, Harry S. Truman – one of our greatest presidents, in my mind – was everything Annan was not during his tenure at the U.N. After all, when there were tough and unpopular decisions to be made, Truman met them head on. He wasn’t afraid to use atomic weapons, or take action in Korea, or dismiss Gen. Douglas MacArthur, or chastise a “do nothing” Congress when events demanded.

Now compare Truman’s presidency with Annan’s pathetic record as head crook of an institution full of tin-horn despots and crooks, desperately in need of a house-cleaning (a good fumigation wouldn’t hurt, either) and someone to restore integrity, trust, accountability, and usefulness in a world sorely in need of international leadership and honest diplomacy. But don’t take it from me, let Dr. Nile Gardner of the Heritage Foundation sum up Secretary General Annan’s tenure. It’s not pretty, folks, but Dr. Gardner leaves not a stone unturned with a withering attack, not only on Annan’s pitiful performance and lack of ethics as SG, but on the man himself:

Annan’s departure from office has not come soon enough. His 10 years in power have been a monumental failure, and he leaves behind an institution whose standing could barely be lower and a legacy that is a testament to mismanagement, corruption, and anti-Americanism. Over the past 12 years, the U.N. has been dominated by scandal, division, and failure. From the disaster of the U.N. peacekeeping missions in Rwanda and Bosnia in the mid-1990s to the U.N.’s slow response to the Sudan genocide, its recent track record has been spectacularly unimpressive. His successor will inherit a U.N. whose image has slipped to an all-time low.

The Oil-for-Food and Congo peacekeeping scandals have had a devastating impact on the U.N.’s reputation and have reinforced the view that the world body is riddled with corruption and mismanagement, as well as undisciplined in its peacekeeping operations. The failure of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights—now the U.N. Human Rights Council—which was populated with some of the world’s worst human rights violators, has added to the U.N.’s poor image. In addition, the tensions between Washington and Turtle Bay over the war in Iraq have contributed to bringing U.S.–U.N. relations to their lowest point in a generation.

Under Annan the U.N. has shamelessly appeased dictators and tyrants, from Baghdad to Tehran to Khartoum, and has stood weak-kneed in the face of genocide and ethnic cleansing. As head of United Nations peacekeeping operations in the mid-1990s before he rose to Secretary General, Annan never apologized to the victims of the Rwanda genocide, whose slaughter was the consequence of the U.N.’s failure to intervene, or to the families of Muslims massacred at Srebrenica while under the protection of U.N. soldiers. Annan’s lack of humility in the face of great human tragedy has been one of his greatest shortcomings as a U.N. leader. Nor has he ever apologized to the people of Iraq, whose former president he described as “a man I can do business with.”

The U.N.’s new Human Rights Council, touted by Annan as a breakthrough for the U.N., is an unmitigated farce, and the United Nations has largely jettisoned the principles of liberty and freedom. The Council’s lack of membership criteria renders it open to participation and manipulation by the world’s worst human rights abusers. Tyrannical regimes such as Burma, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Zimbabwe all voted in favor of establishing the Council, in the face of strong U.S. opposition. The brutal North Korean dictatorship also endorsed the Council. When Council elections were held in May, leading human rights abusers Algeria, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia were all elected.

A series of peacekeeping scandals, from Bosnia to Burundi to Sierra Leone and Haiti, occurred under Annan’s watch. The largest concentration of abuse has taken place in the Congo, the U.N.’s second largest peacekeeping mission, with 16,000 peacekeepers.

In the Congo, acts of barbarism were perpetrated by United Nations peacekeep­ers and civilian personnel entrusted with protecting some of the weakest and most vulnerable women and children in the world. Personnel from the U.N. Mission in the Democrat­ic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) stand accused of at least 150 major human rights violations, and the scale of the problem is likely to be far greater.

The crimes involved rape and forced prostitution of women and young girls across the country, including inside a refugee camp in the town of Bunia in north­eastern Congo. The alleged perpetrators include U.N. military and civilian personnel from Nepal, Morocco, Tunisia, Uruguay, South Africa, Pakistan, and France.

The sexual abuse scandal in the Congo made a mockery of the U.N.’s professed commitment to uphold basic human rights. The exploitation of some of the most vulnerable people in the world—refugees in a war-ravaged country—was a shameful episode and a massive betrayal of trust, as well as an appalling failure of leadership.

The scandal surrounding the U.N.-administered Oil-for-Food Program has also done immense damage to the world organization’s already shaky credibility. The Oil-for-Food scandal is undoubtedly the biggest financial scandal in the history of the United Nations and probably the largest fraud of modern times. It shattered the liberal illusion that the U.N. is an arbiter of moral authority in the international sphere.

Established in the mid-1990s as a means of providing humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people, the Oil-for-Food Program was subverted and manipulated by Saddam Hussein’s regime, with the complicity of U.N. officials, to help prop up the Iraqi dictator. Saddam’s dictatorship siphoned off billions of dollars from the program through oil smuggling and systematic thievery, by demanding illegal payments from companies buying Iraqi oil, and through kickbacks from those selling goods to Iraq—all under the noses of U.N. bureaucrats.

Despite widespread criticism, Kofi Annan has never taken responsibility for a scandal that has irreparably damaged the U.N.’s reputation. A huge cloud remains over the U.N. Secretary General with regard to his meetings with senior officials from the Swiss Oil-for-Food contractor Cotecna, which employed his son Kojo from 1995 to 1997 and continued to pay him through 2004.

And there is more. I encourage you to read the whole thing. (Hat tip: Free Republic.)

There are few so-called “leaders” in the world I personally despise more than Kofi Annan. Although I have never been much of a fan of the U.N. since the days of U Thant, there could be a significant role for it to play in the world if it weren’t so full of fools, despots, and corruption. And Kofi Annan was the poster-child of the new U.N. – all talk, no action, no accountability. When people like Dr. Gardner and Claudia Rosett (whose tireless efforts to break the Oil-for-Food scandal were worthy of a Pulitzer Prize) tried to raise concerns over the scandals enveloping his position, what did he do? He attacked the messenger! So it should come as no surprise to anyone that Annan would use the setting of a presidential library to fire one last blast at the President whose country hosts such an “august” body. Obviously, just another petty and uncharitable gesture from a very small and petty man.

After thinking about it a little more, however, I finally figured out what possible connection Annan felt he had to someone like Harry S. Truman. You know what it is? They both took “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!”‘s slogan “The Buck Stops Here” personally. For Truman, the “buck” stopped at the presidential desk in the Oval Office. For Annan, the buck stopped with him, too – it’s just that with him, it was then tucked tidily away, in his wallet.

So so long Kofi, don’t let the door hit you going out. And, to quote a great Blondie song, “don’t go away mad, don’t go away sad, just go away.”

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:37 | Comments (0)
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