Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Why Kofi Annan Must Go

When Paul Volcker's latest report on the United Nations was released, apologists for the UN and Secretary General Kofi Annan breathed a sigh of relief.

Despite massive corruption in the oil for food program, high-level shredding of evidence, the blatant greed and influence peddling of his son, and other examples of consistent mismanagement and probable corruption, Volcker failed to find Annan directly culpable. Annan, of course, has publicly refused to resign, even though he readily threw his son overboard.

All of this misses the real point. Not only should Annan resign now; he should have resigned years ago. The Boston Globe made the case in an excellent editorial:

The real reason Annan does not belong in a post that should inspire trust in people around the world is that he has an indefensible record of placing his institutional loyalties before the value of human lives in Rwanda, Bosnia, and now Darfur.

Annan is a man of great charm and intelligence. But in 1994, when he was in charge of UN peacekeeping, he refused to heed faxes from Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the UN forces in Rwanda, reporting Hutu extremist plans to massacre the Tutsis of Rwanda. In January of that horrible year, Annan prevented Dallaire from capturing a large arms cache that would be used three months later to slaughter 800,000 innocent human beings. And when the slaughter began, Annan cabled Dallaire: ''You should make every effort not to compromise your impartiality or to act beyond your mandate but may exercise your discretion to do so should this be essential for the evacuation of foreign nationals."

The United Nations, founded to prevent a recurrence of the Nazi horrors, should not be impartial between the victims and the perpetrators of genocide. As depicted in the heart-wrenching film ''Hotel Rwanda," the mandate of Annan's peacekeeping department to rescue only ''foreign nationals" was a betrayal of the imperiled Rwandans, of the UN's larger purpose, and of basic human solidarity.

7 Comments:

Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

Very moving, Tom. I too have been thinking about what I learned about the world's feeble reaction to the Nazi atrocities and what has happened in Rwanda and Sudan. We have learned nothing; unless the UN will stand for the rights of such people it is nothing at all but a diplomat's private club.

6:22 AM, March 31, 2005  
Blogger Gindy said...

As some one who is Anti-UN I am starting to change my mind about him resigning. If he stays he will be a weak leader of the UN.

I think that may be in America's interest to have a weak leader of the UN and therefore have a weak UN.

But, we shall see.

12:47 PM, March 31, 2005  
Blogger Thomas said...

What do you think the future of the UN is, Tom?

5:10 PM, March 31, 2005  
Blogger Esther said...

"We have learned nothing; unless the UN will stand for the rights of such people it is nothing at all but a diplomat's private club."

Amen, MoM! And another great post, Tom.

7:30 PM, April 01, 2005  
Anonymous STANLEY FELTEN said...

Dear kofi Annan,please go tosave the black race ,you shed 800,000 lives in Rwanda to get there.What Africa needs is more NELSON MANDELAS not dictators .

11:46 PM, April 05, 2005  
Blogger Bill O. Writes said...

Every time I hear about the United Nations I further my belief that it is nothing but an ineffectual bureaucracy. Seventeen resolutions to tell Saddam he better quit, or we will do something. Tell a bully 17 times that he better quit, or you will hit him, and he will laugh at you (before he smashes your nose). I still believe France’s motive was a power play, not conscience. To see men, women, and babies be literally hacked to pieces, and then essentially say, “We’re leaving. We don’t want to get involved.” It was my idea that the United Nations was there to prevent slaughter by war, and genocide. I don’t know their stand on Sudan, but I can guess.

Once I complained that if a man was shot in Congress, he would have recovered, grown old, and was buried before Congress could get a vote on what to do about the bullet wound, unless it was in their special interest. It seems the UN is a super sized Congress.

2:59 PM, April 07, 2005  
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