Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Monday, December 20, 2004

A call for Kofi Annan to resign from a liberal multilateralist
Written by: Beck

Kofi Annan apologists and United Nations defenders have gone to great lengths to characterize the current anger directed towards them as the product of right wing opportunists and ultra-conservative attack squads. By associating anti-UN sentiments with the Rush Limbaugh right they hope to insinuate that their critics are unsophisticated, unserious, card-carrying members of the tin-foil hat brigade.

The reality of the situation, of course, is that criticism of Annan and the United Nations are far more wide spread and cover a far broader range of the political spectrum. While not all critics are calling for American withdrawal from the UN or expulsion of the UN from New York, calls for reform and fresh leadership enjoy wide ranging support.

As such, I feel compelled to draw attention to this article from the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal, as it was written by a self-declared "liberal multilateralist" who has done on-the-ground investigation into the genocides in Serbia and Rwanda--operations which were both under the control of--surprise--Kofi Annan.
A debate currently rages about whether Kofi Annan enjoys the moral authority to lead the United Nations because the Oil for Food scandal happened under his command. That debate is 10 years too late and addresses the wrong subject. The salient indictment of Mr. Annan's leadership is lethal cowardice, not corruption; the evidence is genocide, not oil.

[...] But it isn't just the stench of death I remember so vividly; the odor of betrayal also hung heavily in the Rwandan air. This was not a genocide in which the U.N. failed to intervene; most of the U.N.'s armed troops evacuated after the first two weeks of massacres, abandoning vulnerable civilians to their fate, which included, literally, the worst things in the world a human being can do to another human being.

It did not have to happen. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the U.N.'s force commander in Rwanda, sent Mr. Annan a series of desperate faxes including one warning that Hutu militias "could kill up to 1,000" Tutsis "in 20 minutes" and others pleading for authority to protect vulnerable civilians. But at the crucial moment, Mr. Annan ordered his general to stand down and to vigorously protect, not genocide victims, assembled in their numbers waiting to die, but the U.N.'s image of "impartiality."

[...] Rwandans still seethe. Last month I went to a tiny, remote village, deep in the central Rwandan hills to meet Charles Kagenza, a famous Tutsi survivor who hid in the bell tower of a church full of Tutsis that was bulldozed to the ground, burying victims alive. When I told him I worked for the U.N. 10 years ago, just after the war, he looked me straight in the eye, with his one remaining good eye, and shot back, "What are you doing here? You had the capacity to save us but you abandoned us."

[...] Some 3,300 miles directly north from Kigali is the town of Srebrenica, a grim, shell-pocked village on the border of Republika Srpska and Serbia. A few kilometers down a decrepit road is a sprawling abandoned battery factory. Ten years ago, thousands of Muslim civilians concentrated here seeking shelter at a U.N. base. But Serb militias separated the men and boys from their women and put them on buses. Armed Blue Helmeted U.N. Peacekeepers--tasked under Mr. Annan's leadership to protect Srebrenica's civilians in this U.N.-declared "Safe Area"--watched passively. The women of Srebrenica never saw their men again.

Across the street lies a new cemetery and memorial for the 8,000 fallen men of Srebrenica. The remains of most of Safe Area Srebrenica's men have not yet been identified through DNA, but 1,300 have, and they rest in fresh mounds of earth on one end of the mostly empty graveyard. A long desolate green field waits to bury the rest of the remains.

[...] One of the women of Srebrenica whom these men left behind entered the graveyard while I was there. Ashen white face and gold teeth framed in a traditional black Bosniac headscarf, she moved from tombstone to tombstone bowed in prayer. She told me her name was Magbula and she lost six of her men here, husband, sons and brothers. The whole family had gathered across the street at the battery factory, assuming the U.N. soldiers there would protect them, she said. Her men were put on a bus at the gate of the factory and she never saw them again.

"Do you think the U.N. was at fault?" I asked. Not the soldiers, she said, but the leaders. "If they had done their job, and were responsible, this would not have happened." I asked if she'd heard about the current controversy over Mr. Annan's leadership. Yes she had. So I asked if she thought he should resign. It was not oil that fueled her angry answer, but genocide: "Yes," she said, waving her hand, "all the U.N. leaders. They could have reacted if they wanted to. If the U.N. goes somewhere now, how can the people there believe or trust that the U.N. will save them?"
Kofi Annan is a morally bankrupt technocrat interested only in the preservation of his own power and the enrichment of his cronies. The United Nations has a difficult enough time claiming any sort of moral authority as it is thanks to the domination of the General Assembly by dictators; certainly, it will never be able to claim any sort of moral authority so long as Annan remains in charge.

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John Beck

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