A Heartbreaking Legacy
Outgoing Secretary General Kofi Annan may have destroyed the last credibility the UN possessed. Sin certainly doesn't lack a sense of irony.
Sound harsh? The WSJ doesn't think so:
When Mr. Annan was named Secretary General 10 years ago, he did so as the U.S.-backed candidate of reform. Jesse Helms, then-chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Mr. Annan that "if you choose to be an agent of real and deep-seated change, you will find many supporters--and even allies--here in the U.S. Congress."
Senator Helms's expectations were not met. Seven years later--thanks to U.S. military action that Mr. Annan did everything in his power to prevent--we learned that he had presided over the greatest bribery scheme in history, known as Oil for Food. We learned that Benon Sevan, Mr. Annan's trusted confidant in charge of administering the program, had himself been a beneficiary of Iraqi kickbacks to the tune of $160,000. We learned that Mr. Annan's chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, had ordered potentially incriminating documents to be destroyed. We learned that Mr. Annan and his deputy, Louise Frechette, were both aware of the kickback scheme but failed to report it to the Security Council, as their fiduciary duties required. However, we haven't yet learned whether the senior Annan illegally helped his son Kojo obtain a discounted Mercedes, an issue on which the Secretary General has stonewalled reporters.
Earlier this year, Mr. Annan was also forced to place eight senior U.N. procurement officials on leave pending investigations on bribery and other charges. Vladimir Kuznetsov, the head of the U.N. budget-oversight committee, was indicted this year on money-laundering charges. Alexander Yakovlev, another procurement official, pled guilty to skimming nearly $1 million off U.N. contracts. The U.N.'s own office of Internal Oversight found that U.N. peacekeeping operations had mismanaged some $300 million in expenditures.
Mr. Annan's response to all this has been a model of blame-shifting, obfuscation and patently insincere mea culpas, apparently justified by his view that a Secretary General has more important things to do than administer his own organization. But allow the Secretary General the conceit that his real job is acting as the world's most important diplomat. How has he performed in that task?
Mr. Annan came to office after a stint as head of U.N. peacekeeping operations. The period corresponded with the massacre in Srebenica of 7,000 Bosnians and the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda, both of which were facilitated by the nonfeasance of peacekeepers on the ground. It was later revealed that Mr. Annan's office explicitly forbade peacekeepers from raiding Hutu arms caches in Rwanda just four months before the genocide.
The world's worst man-made humanitarian catastrophes have since taken place in Zimbabwe, North Korea, Congo and Darfur. Mr. Annan has been mostly silent about the first two, perhaps on the time-honored U.N. principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states other than the U.S. In the Congo, U.N. peacekeepers haven't stopped the bloodshed, but they have made themselves notorious as sexual predators.
Gross incompetence. Corruption. Hypocrisy. Indulgence of member state's undermining of the UN's raison d'etre. Mr. Annan's tenure has brought the UN into utter disrepute.
When the pre-eminent human rights violators of the world held seats on the human rights commission, how could the UN claim any kind of moral credibility?
When the US and Israel continually endure public condemnation of their policies, while other member states' internal affairs pass without content, how can the UN claim any kind of neutrality?
When Genocides occur again and again, and all Peacekeepers do is become pimping ganstas, how has the UN ensured security and peace?
The nations of the world deserve a forum in which they may discuss their interests. They deserve an affiliation that allows them all to cooperate in keeping international peace. They deserve the mutual commitment of their brother nations to keep common accords.
They won't find any of these necessities at the United Nations.
They can thank Mr. Annan for that.