Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Friday, December 10, 2004

Kofi Annan Resignation Watch Day... ah, screw it
Written by: Beck

My spirits were lifted when I saw this article in the LA Times, linked by Instapundit. It's highly critical of the United Nations, and while it's only an opinion piece, it's still quite encouraging to see such an item being covered in what is arguably the nation's most liberal mainstream daily (the mention of the right-wing blogosphere made me smile as well I have to admit).
Imagine if U.S. troops were accused of sexually exploiting children in impoverished nations. Imagine if a U.S. Cabinet secretary were accused of groping a female subordinate, whose complaint was then swatted aside by the president. Imagine if the head of a U.S. government agency and the president's own offspring stood accused of complicity in the biggest embezzlement racket in history.

Those would be pretty big stories, no? Above-the-fold, top-of-the-newscast stories. Yet the United Nations has been mired in all these scandals and until just recently hardly anybody outside the right-wing blogosphere has noticed.

Even now, if you're not an inveterate U.N.-watcher, you probably don't know that Ruud Lubbers, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, was accused of sexually harassing a subordinate, only to have the charges dismissed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan despite an internal investigation that supported the woman's complaint. Or that U.N. peacekeepers have been accused of a variety of sexual offenses involving children for more than a decade, most recently in Congo. Or even that Annan's son, Kojo, and Benon Savan, the head of the U.N. "oil for food" program in Iraq, are said to have benefited financially while Saddam Hussein stole $21 billion.

Where's the outrage? It's easy to find among conservatives, but then they never liked the U.N. to begin with. Why didn't the mainstream media and the Democrats (pardon the redundancy), not to mention various European governments, devote more attention to these scandals? Far from demanding high-level resignations, they are circling the wagons.

The U.N.'s friends are doing their favorite international institution no favors with this knee-jerk defense. Until it cleans up its act, the U.N. can never be as influential as its boosters would like. Even Annan recognizes this. In fact, he seems to specialize in critiques of his own organization.

[...] All of the reformistas' efforts founder on the rocks of apathy and inertia. The reality is that most of the U.N.'s 191-member states, to say nothing of its 49,000 employees, aren't terribly interested in making it work better. They usually have other priorities. Even the Bush administration isn't making much of a stink over the oil-for-food scandal because it needs U.N. support in Iraq and elsewhere.

Many member states don't want to rock the boat because they have cozy deals with the current U.N. regime. A French bank, for instance, was the prime repository of the oil-for-food billions. Others are afraid that a stronger U.N. would interfere in their affairs. Russia doesn't want the U.N. meddling in Chechnya, China doesn't want it in Tibet, India doesn't want it in Kashmir, and so on.
But then I saw in the New York Times that the White House, which had remained amusingly--if maddeningly--coy on the issue of Annan's continued tenure at the UN, thus implying that it was more than just a little unhappy with his performance, finally cratered to pressure and issued a statement in support of Kofi.
"We are expressing confidence in the secretary general and in his continuing in office," Ambassador John C. Danforth said in comments to reporters, who had been alerted throughout the day by the United States mission that Mr. Danforth would be delivering an important message.

Speaking for the White House and the State Department, Mr. Danforth said officials had decided to make a statement because they believed their earlier reluctance to express confidence in Mr. Annan had been misread.

He noted that the United Nations played a role in many areas of concern to the United States, like Iraq [where the UN has spared no effort to hamstring the United States --ed], the Middle East [where the UN has done more to sow division, cause problems, and hamstring the United States than anyone excepting perhaps al Qaeda --ed] and Sudan [are you fucking kidding me? The UN has done squat for the million or so displaced people and the tens of thousands who have been starved and outright slaughtered --ed], and that Washington looked forward to working closely with him "for the time to come." Mr. Annan's term of office ends Dec. 31, 2006, and he has reiterated in recent days that he looked forward to remaining actively in office until then.
Once again, at a moment when a real opportunity to foster change for the better has arisen, this administration has let me down. I've come to expect disappointment from this administration on a routine basis--and they're the ones I voted for.

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John Beck

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