Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Sun Setting on the UN Dream

In an article on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal, Kofi Annan does his best to defend his institution, and especially himself. He makes about as good a case for the continued existence of the UN as can be made, but it is far from persuasive. Near the end of the article he even speaks directly to some of the UN abuses that will eventually bring him down:
"Of course the U.N. is far from perfect--even if some of the recent allegations made about it have been overblown. The interim report of Paul Volcker's independent inquiry has helped put the Oil For Food program in perspective. Some of the more hyperbolic assertions about it have been proven untrue."
Kofi is still in CYA mode here, hoping that Volcker's investigation under his control will keep the lid on things.
"Yet I am the first to admit that real and troubling failures--ethical lapses and lax management--have been brought to light. I am determined, with the help of member states, to carry through the management reforms which are clearly called for by Mr. Volcker's findings."
Actually, Kofi, you were the last to admit it, not the first.
"Even more shocking are widespread cases of sexual exploitation and abuse of minors by peacekeepers and U.N. officials in the Congo and other African countries. Both the U.N. Secretariat and the member states have been too slow to realize the extent of this problem, take effective measures to end it, and punish the culprits. But we are now doing so, and I am determined to see it through."
How much lower can the UN sink? Stealing the food from starving Iraqi children wasn't easy to top, but "peacekeepers" raping starving children manages the feat.
"In my eight years as secretary-general, I had already done a lot--with the support of member states, often led by the U.S.--to make the U.N. more coherent and efficient. Now we need to make it more transparent and accountable--not only to diplomats representing member governments, but also directly to the public."
It's too late. The system is so completely rotten that what is left isn't worth fixing. The UN sat on its hands during the Rwanda genocide, and now it's doing the same for Sudan. Talk is normally cheap, but even that isn't true for the UN.

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