January 18, 2005
A tsUNami hits Annan and friends at Turtle BayBy Ed Lasky
While barely registering a ripple in the Mainstream Media, several key senior people have been 'resigned' by Kofi Annan in the wake of a series of scandals. The sudden departures also follow a Manhattan meeting with liberal friends of Annan's from the foreign policy establishment, and a meeting between Annan and Bush Administration officials in Washington. There may be more than meets the eye in this sequence of developments.
Over the past few decades, the UN has become a playpen for despots and dictators determined to manipulate the organization to achieve their goals: assure their continued rule, frustrate the desires of America, besmirch the reputation of America, coddle terrorists and reap billions of dollars in aid and graft from Western democracies. Annan has spent his entire career at the UN, and is the first Secretary—General in history to have risen through its ranks to the top. Annan the apparatchik has been the willing puppet for these worthies.
The ongoing revelations in the oil—for—food scandal have constituted a proverbial thread being pulled, which is unraveling the cloak which has shielded much of the UN from public scrutiny for decades. In the last few months we have seen a passel of disgraceful scandals revealed from Turtle Bay. UN peacekeeping forces in the Congo engaged in child prostitution and a sex—for—food racket. UN staffers themselves accused Rudd Lubbers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (and a good friend of Annan's) of sexual harassment. The chief of the UN Refugee and Works Agency admitted knowingly having members of the terror group Hamas on the UN payroll.
These disgraces follow upon previous scandals. The UN Conference Against Racism in Durban became an anti—Semitic and anti—American hate fest. Annan's overstepped his boundaries by submitting the issue of Israel's security barrier to the International Court of Justice. Annan's was complicit in the genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia by his refusal to act in a timely manner, and by his attempts to hide his negligence or obstructionism in those two massive slaughters. His feckless response to the genocide in the Sudan seemed almost to be an attempt at a mass slaughter hat trick.
Actually, Annan may have already achieved that dubious hat trick by permitting Saddam Hussein to murder hundreds of thousands of his own people with nary a response from the Secretary General. The oil—for—food scandal was just the apotheosis of trends that have been gaining strength in the UN during Annan's reign: a sense of lawlessness and corruption, lethally combined with an utter lack of accountability, that pervades the UN and has caused great harm throughout the world. For a more complete list, those with abundant time on their hands are directed to google and these three search terms: scandal, UN, Annan.
The growth of certain media outlets and the ascendancy of the Republican Party, capped by the 2004 election victory of George Bush, have brought some needed consternation to Kofi Annan. Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the estimable reporting by Benny Avni at the New York Sun have brought to light the very scandals that the New York Times and the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, CBS News and their brethren have studiously ignored.
The victory of Bush came as a great shock to Annan, who must have had a Pauline Kael moment, Miss Kael was the movie critic for the New Yorker who was astounded that Nixon won in 1972 and famously wondered how it was possible, since 'No one I know voted for Nixon.' After all, Annan aided Kerry by breaking precedent, interjecting himself into the presidential campaign. The Iraq war 'is illegal,' he opined without statutory authority to render such official judgment. The suspicious release of potentially damning information concerning the possible ransacking of an Iraq weapons cache just days before the election also drew suspicion of interference in American politics.
Nevertheless, despite the preferences of Kofi and Company, the Republican Party now controls both Houses of Congress and the White House, and this power poses a threat to the ability of Annan and his cohorts to continue abusing the United Nations.
Senator Norm Coleman (R—Minnesota) and Representative Henry Hyde (R—Illinois) have been among the Republican leaders in Congress trying to bring to light the facts behind the oil—for—food scandals. President Bush has challenged the UN to hold true and fast to its founding principles, peace, democracy, the prevention of genocide, if it is to remain relevant. There have been calls in Congress to cut funding to the United Nations unless ameliorative steps are taken. A recently established group, Move America Forward , is beginning a television advertising campaign urging the United States throw UN out of the United States. From Annan's point of view, this looks very bad indeed.
In the face of unwelcome press scrutiny and pressure from our government and citizens' groups, Annan has felt compelled to respond. The pressure must have been extreme for Annan's liberal friends from the foreign policy establishment (such as ex—UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and Leslie Gelb of the Council of Foreign Relations) to meet with him in a Manhattan apartment and tell him the steps he must take to save his job. This meeting was followed by a quick trip by Annan to meet with Bush Administration officials. After Annan met with Administration officials, President Bush expressed his support for Annan and for his continuing in office. Anann apparently took to heart whatever was told to him behind closed doors.
The gist of these discussions remains private, but one wonders if there is even greater evidence of malfeasance, perhaps extending to Annan' son or to Annan himself, that has heretofore remained private. This information could presumably be used to persuade Annan to abide by his responsibilities to the charter and history of the United Nations. After all, when the scandalous Nazi past of Kurt Waldheim was brought to light a number of years ago, many observers began to speculate that the anti—American tilt of the UN during his years in power could be explained by his being blackmailed by the Soviet Union. The Russians were believed to have uncovered Waldheim's Nazi records by virtue of their occupation of East Germany.
This is merely conjecture, but what is not conjectural is Annan's response to this pressure, jettisoning friends and allies while preserving his own position. The image of people being pushed from the lifeboat by a stronger person comes to mind. In the last few weeks, Annan has fired his right—hand man and chief of staff, Iqbal Riza (also complicit in the Rwanda and Bosnia genocides), a Pakistani with an anti—American reputation, and replaced him with a well—respected Brit, Malloch Brown.
Another thorn in America's side has been Terje Roed—Larsen, the UN's Middle East observer, who has been a roadblock in the way of the road map of the steps necessary to bring peace to the region laid out by Bush . This anything—but—neutral representative appears to be on the way out. Annan has also done little to protect his good friend Benon Sevan, who administered the oil—for—food program and seems to have been himself corrupted. The Financial Times has reported that Annan is looking for a well—connected person from Washington to become the public relations spin doctor for the UN. As a sop to George Bush, the UN is on the verge of appointing Ann Veneman, a personal friend of George Bush, a Republican, and his departing Agricultural Secretary, to be the head of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Will this be enough to satisfy George Bush? Hopefully not. Malloch Brown seems to be the appointed hatchet man for Annan: in a Financial Times article he points to further housecleaning to come. This Financial Times article reports two more high level departures are imminent: the head of political affairs and the UN's comptroller and head of management.
Annan's cabinet will be left in tatters. While the Washington Post and the New York Times report on departures from the CIA and George Bush's Cabinet with an unseemly avidity, there has been a wall of silence regarding the mass exodus from the United Nation. Leaving aside the issue of media bias, what does this sequence of events say about Kofi Annan? That he would willingly sacrifice his friends and allies to preserve his title. That a man who has presided over the perversion of the UN is so frightened of exposure that he gleefully throws out to the lions people he has worked with closely over the years without accepting any personal responsibility himself. After all, these problems festered under his reign. Only pressure from George Bush and some key Congressmen has prompted him to take these steps towards reform.
We probably should never expect more from a man who, during his entire career at the United Nations, has been sacrificing and subverting the very principles and goals upon which the United Nations was founded: the spread of democracy, freedom and peace throughout the world. Throughout his rise in the UN bureaucracy, he willingly dispensed with these noble goals. He has diminished the stature of the United Nations. He has made it an accomplice in the greatest swindle in the history of the world. And he has made it an actor in genocides on two different continents. He has irreparably harmed the United Nations. So should we be surprised that he offers up others to keep his job?
Why not add a few friends to the funeral pyre?