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Dark Knight
13th Dec 2006, 03:33
Kofi's Catastrophes

A decade of tragedies flourished under the UN chief's watch (Australian 131206)

IT is by turns both appropriate and distasteful that the appalling, appeasing sycophant, outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan decided to give his last major policy address at the presidential library of Harry S. Truman, the American commander-in-chief who presided over the world body's creation. Appropriate, because it gives the world a chance to reflect on the founding values the UN and all that body could be. And distasteful because of the mockery of those values that has taken place in the 10 years Mr Annan has led that organisation. In his speech Mr Annan was quick to blame everyone but himself for the current state of the world, especially the US for "appear(ing) to abandoning its ideals and objectives". He also focused on the need for accountability and the rule of law in the international system. Fair enough. Certainly there is no escaping failures in the US policy in Iraq. But to focus exclusively on Washington's errors ignores the fact it is the UN, not the US, that has stood by and allowed so many genocides to be committed and so many dictators to flourish. If one believes that the world needs multilateral institutions such as the UN, one also must admit that Kofi Annan's tenure has done nothing to enhance such bodies' reputations.

While the accountability Mr Annan spoke of is a wonderful thing, it has been in woefully short supply during his tenure. The oil-for-food scandal, in which Australia’s AWB (the only country to have held a full investigation) played a part, saw the $82 billion program become a feeding trough for Saddam Hussein, his cronies, and corrupt businessmen and diplomats the world over. Even Mr Annan's son, Kojo, is thought to have wet his beak. Nor did Mr Annan do much in the way of holding national leaders to account for their crimes. Mr Annan helped stonewall multiple UN Security Council resolutions designed to hold Saddam accountable to the rule of international law. And this is to say nothing of the myriad sex and paedophilia scandals that have become a sad sideshow to UN peacekeeping missions around the globe. Finally, it is obscene for Mr Annan to speak as he did about "our shared responsibility to protect people from genocide". Before he ascended to the top of the UN's bureaucratic heap, Mr Annan ran the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. In 1994, in the midst of the Rwanda crisis, Mr Annan was repeatedly warned of the impending genocide. But instead of allowing UN forces to intervene, Mr Annan told his troops to keep their weapons holstered. As a result, nearly a million people were hacked to death. The following year, 400 Dutch UN peacekeepers stood by as more than 8000 Bosnian men and boys were massacred in a so-called "safe area" at Srebrenica. Fast-forward to the present, where Mr Annan's UN has since 2003 stood back to let Sudanese militias terrorise the people of Darfur. The profound promise of "never again" made by the world after the Holocaust has been broken many times over on Mr Annan's watch.

If there is one thing that Mr Annan was correct about, it was that the US needs to remain involved in the world as a force for good. For without serious, systemic reform, the UN can never hope to fill the vacuum created by an isolationist America or be the honest broker the world needs. Last September, Mr Annan began his farewell tour with another speech lamenting that the problems of "an unjust world economy, world disorder, and widespread contempt for human rights and the rule of law . . . sharpened" during his tenure as Secretary-General. It is a shame Mr Annan does not recognise his own substantial contribution to these disasters.



Has the UN's useby date arrived or do we continue it as an elaborate, expensive, inefective, glorified debating society?

DK

con-pilot
13th Dec 2006, 04:00
Dark Knight, I'm sure you will receive a lot of flack over you posting that article. Not from me.

There is so much truth in that article. The world cannot handle the United States to become totally isolationist. Shoot I'm dang near ready to support that idea.

Pull all of our troops home, end all foreign aid and the next time Europe gets into a war, good luck, don't look at us to bail you out again, sorry, but I'm getting tired of it all.

obgraham
13th Dec 2006, 04:33
It's truly difficult to find any positive UN accomplishments in the last 20 or so years. Serving as homebase for WHO, and doing some redistribution via UNICEF (though even there, thoroughly inefficiently) are about the only two that come to mind.

priapism
13th Dec 2006, 05:05
Best post I have read ever Dark Knight. The U.N is an absolute junket for jaded diplomats.

Blacksheep
13th Dec 2006, 05:19
Past twenty years obgraham? Apart from the two exceptions already mentioned, I actually can't think of anything really useful that the UN has achieved since it began.

For all the flak we give them on here, (myself included, occasionally) its the USA that has done the most for the world since December 1941. They may have made a major error or two (Vietnam & Iraq spring to mind) but on the whole we'd be deep, deep down in a pile of the brown, smelly stuff if it wasn't for our colonial cousins.

Since its nothing but a huge collection of diplomats, its hardly surprising that the UN is and always has been, incapable of firm, prompt and decisive action.

XXTSGR
13th Dec 2006, 08:50
Blaming the UN for the failing in its functions is like blaming your car for running out of fuel. If it doesn't work, the answer is to define what you want it to do and give it the powers and the funding to do so.

One of the ideas behind the UN originally was to give smaller nations a say in world affairs rather than to give bigger countries even more clout. So one would expect the larger nations to complain when the UN fails to back up the bigger bullies in the playground. The neocon right of the USA and Tony B. Liar's UK administration bear much of the blame for the failings of the UN.

tony draper
13th Dec 2006, 09:01
As with all vast organisations the prime function of the UN has become the well being of the organisation itself and its continued exisitance,everything else they do or do not do is secondary to that goal.
:cool:

Duff beer
13th Dec 2006, 09:14
Pull all of our troops home, end all foreign aid and the next time Europe gets into a war, good luck, don't look at us to bail you out again, sorry, but I'm getting tired of it all.

Con, the US never acts selflessly, there are/was always motives behind its assistance to others. I'm not saying thats a good or a bad thing just an observation, its your right to act as you see fit.

So please my friend, dont say you helped us out of the goodness of your heart, because we PAID for everything you gave us. The US watched Britain fight alone for years for the name of FREEDOM (a word you chaps like to use), knowing that the future debt would cripple the country and allow the US to take over.

ORAC
13th Dec 2006, 09:24
So please my friend, dont say you helped us out of the goodness of your heart, because we PAID for everything you gave us. Some of us remember, Con.

http://images.worldofstock.com/slides/MES1974.jpg

Gravestones at the US Cemetery Coleville sur Mer Normandy France.


The UN is a peace keeping organisation, not a peace making. No one would have given it that power. It fails because it is asked to much within its mandate, then criticised for the failure.

High Wing Drifter
13th Dec 2006, 09:45
Sorry, but I don't think Mr Annan is to blame for Rowanda or Srebincia. He can't vote for countries and the Dutch stood down.

Anyway, being force for good is not what the US is about, it is about being a force for the good of the US and no less. Just like the UK, the French and every other nation. You may have noticed that when the US wanted to act they didn't need the UN. Where were the US during the genocide? Yes, just the same as everybody else, they realised that there is nothing in it for them just like Darfour really.

An expose on potted thinking if ever there was one!

Duff beer
13th Dec 2006, 10:04
ORAC, we all remember. Playing the 'look at the graves' card is pathetic.
Can we not have a debate about political decisions without it being taked as a personal attack on a country.

My point is, the US has always acted selflessly. Their introduction into European wars was for the good of the US. They had no desire (even contemplated supporting the Nazis during the early days)to fight the evil of Nazism. Of Course this is their perogative, we cannot automatically expect US help.

Compare that to say, the Canadian government who sent troops to help out a friend in their time of need.

ORAC
13th Dec 2006, 10:17
My point is, the US has always acted selflessly. A bit Freudian that.... :E

Can we not have a debate about political decisions without it being taked as a personal attack on a country. Really? What, exactly, do you call this then, a compliment? :hmm:

The US watched Britain fight alone for years for the name of FREEDOM (a word you chaps like to use), knowing that the future debt would cripple the country and allow the US to take over.

Buster Hyman
13th Dec 2006, 10:25
Bring back the League of Nations I say! "Peace in our time!":rolleyes:

oojamaflip
13th Dec 2006, 10:34
Con-Pilot,
I understand that the US now rules the world and therefore gets to re-write history as it wishes, but 'bailing' out Europe out of a spirit of christian duty or somesuch does not really hold water.

WW1 - after profiting hugely by taking over markets abandoned by the warring European nations, the US enters the war only when it's own commercial interests are threatened.

WW2 - MacArthur's statement that the battle for Australia will be fought in the Philipines is mirrored in the policy that the battle for the states will be fought in Europe. It may have taken a generation, but if Britain had fallen, the war was always coming to your door. After 2 years watching an increasingly desperate Uk hang on, the US still refused to join in until it was declared war upon by Japan and Germany. The major point being that the UK waded in on behalf of Poland when we could've stayed out of it. The US did no such thing when the UK was under the cosh.

Please don't think I am denigrating the sacrifices made by US servicemen. 295,000 died in the war and a large percentage were fighting for Europe. I think however that the major objective of the US administration was to see the remaining power of the British empire broken by the Germans before they inevitably got involved. Otherwise where were you in September 1939?

Flip Flop Flyer
13th Dec 2006, 10:57
My point is, the US has always acted selflessly.
Where to begin shooting that statement down? Nicaragua? Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation? Bay of Pigs? Viet Nam? Iraq? .... I do belive the bandwidth at this site would not be sufficent to even list the selfish acts done by the US, let alone explain them. Now don't get me wrong, as a previous poster said nations act in their own best interest - as well they should.
But saying the US always acts selflessly is a bit like saying Fox News is fair and balanced. Oh, wait a minute ....

It may have taken a generation, but if Britain had fallen, the war was always coming to your door.

Yes, in the form of the Red Army. Nazi Germany would have been defeated eventually, with or without the US taking part - the Soviets would have sorted things out. Then the US would have lost it's biggest trading partner when all of Europe, including the UK, would be under communist rule. I do belive that fact was not lost on the American government.

As for the article blaming Kofi Annan for everything that's wrong with the UN speaks to me of ignorance coupled with a political agenda. The UN is, by and large, a democracy. However, 5 major nations have the power to block all initiatives through their right of veto; the Sec Gen does not hold that privilige. What the author of the article utterly fails to comprehend is that the Sec Gen cannot force any decision, and in a democracy you need the majority on your side to make a decision - a decision which might then be vetoed by the permanent members of the security council. Having the US discard the UN for being "irrelevant" because it refused to underwrite the hopeless occupation of Iraq only adds further misery to the sorry state of the UN. But, sure, let's blame Kofi.

One feels this article has been written for simpletons looking for a scapegoat, and I shall not be surprised to see it hailed as gospel by Fox News.

Sammie_nl
13th Dec 2006, 11:12
:hmm: First curtail the competences of the UN, then blame it for not taking action.

In 1994, in the midst of the Rwanda crisis, Mr Annan was repeatedly warned of the impending genocide. But instead of allowing UN forces to intervene, Mr Annan told his troops to keep their weapons holstered.

Rwanda, hmmmmm, there were about 300 canadian troops and a couple of hunderd guys from Ghana, locked in the capital. Why didn't they get a stronger mandate and more boots on the ground? Is it a failure of the UN that other countries don't feel the urge to intervene. If the UN should have acted, then what army is the UN equipped with?

The UN is an intergovernmental organisation, it has little or no competences to force third countries into compliance if its members don't feel like doing so.

The UN was born out of the idea that communication at state level would make war less likely and harder to start. You history buffs might remember that it was miscommunication and the failed system of direct diplomacy that was a large contributor to the beginning of the Great War.

In International Relations Theory the assumption is that there is anarchy at state level, thus no rules. The UN tries to impose rules on them, but its results are largely influences by its members.


The UN has many many faults, but at this point I see little alternative or a way out. So I think muddling through is the best way forward:(

Juud
13th Dec 2006, 11:14
Catchy titel there Dark Knight! :ok:

....... and apart from the main protagonist himself (can never keep my mind on world affairs when I hear him talking) that's pretty much the ONLY attractive thing about this thread........ :rolleyes:

tony draper
13th Dec 2006, 11:20
If I recall correctly the League of Nations was deemed to have failed because the USA was not a member,now they claim the UN is failing because the USA is a member,poor cousins can't do **** all right.
:rolleyes:

High Wing Drifter
13th Dec 2006, 11:25
Am I alone in thinking that when somebody stands up to the US and then the US discovered mis-deeds by said person's relative that it is in fact the US that looks shabby and the person who was given the option of "Do as we say or we drop your son in the mire" who actually holds the moral high ground?

tony draper
13th Dec 2006, 11:27
It helps them in their endevours of course when the son is actually swimming in the mire.
:rolleyes:

High Wing Drifter
13th Dec 2006, 12:25
Tony,

Who at that level isn't? Case in point...Halliburton. They're all at it, getting what they can, figuring out how to manipulate situations, people, even governments. You get to find out about these deeds when some poor naive sod blows the whistle or somebody is using the information as a lever to get what they want. Not because Justice must prevail or some other BS.

tony draper
13th Dec 2006, 12:37
Twas ever thus Mr Drifter, when ever there is a opportunity for fiddle or corruption in a organisation, it will come to pass,thats one of those unwritten laws that is.
:rolleyes:

Capt.KAOS
13th Dec 2006, 13:37
The UN is as good as it's members allows them. Having said that, I never thought of Annan as a strong, visionary, leader.

Rollingthunder
13th Dec 2006, 13:41
Never trust low talkers or their sons thereof.

Ineffectual he has been. Next one will be as well, whoever he will be.

XXTSGR
13th Dec 2006, 13:43
Ineffectual he has been.RT - you practising to replace Yoda? ;)

Rollingthunder
13th Dec 2006, 13:52
He would be better at the job, he does think.

They are not diplomats at the un, they are politicians, and as badly trained as are most.

Are there any graduates of diplomat school, level IV ?

ORAC
13th Dec 2006, 13:59
Next one will be as well, whoever he will be. he was appointed weeks and weeks ago. Apparently another back-room wheeler-dealer who likes to stay out of the spotlights.
"United Nations Appoints (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/ga10514.doc.htm) Republic of Korea´s Ban Ki-Moon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ban_Ki-moon)as Next Secretary-General"

brickhistory
13th Dec 2006, 16:43
Rather than climbing into a hibernation box, the way forward is to go about repairing the harm that has been done starting with a fair deal for the Palestinians.

LAJ,

A question if I may: What would be a 'fair deal?'

I'm not looking to argue nor do I have a strong position other than I accept and agree with Israel's right to exist.

So what, in your opinion, would be a way to deal with this situation that could realistically work?

obgraham
13th Dec 2006, 18:23
So let me understand this.
We complain that the UN is ineffectual because its members don't want to give it sufficient power to be useful.
Then some members spend ages trying to get the UN to lose its inertia and do something.
Then when that didn't work, because the majority of members are in fact nations ruled by demagogues, and the previously mentioned members decide to take action outside the UN...
Then we blame that member for the failure of the UN.

In-fecking-credible.

obgraham
13th Dec 2006, 21:15
If you want me to say what a fair deal Israel should get in return, I will willingly oblige.Can't speak for Brick, but I'm all ears.

High Wing Drifter
13th Dec 2006, 21:53
Lima,

I think you talk (write) more sense than most. But the 'stinians are a red herring. Unfortunately what has happened there cannot be undone and they have clearly demonstrated that they are unable to govern themselves. Simply returning land sea and air to them will make the Isrealis even more paranoid as the various factions blow each other up some more from which turmoil yet more factions will arise and blame anybody who cares to look in their direction.

Rather than explicitly handing over land, ect to them, perhaps a more organic settlement would be reached if the funding of Isreal by the US was steadily reduced to very little over then next 15-20 years. I suspect we would see something more viable.

Two hopes for that though, Bob and...

brickhistory
13th Dec 2006, 23:21
Not that this is the topic of the thread Brick but...
(1) The creation of a Palestinian state
(2) The return of land annexed by Israel since the 1967 war
(3) The return of Palestinian airspace and waters controlled by Israel
(4) A land link to allow Palestinians to travel from the West Bank to the Gaza strip
(5) The right to return for refugees
If you want me to say what a fair deal Israel should get in return, I will willingly oblige.

LAJ,

thanks for this and yes, I'd be interested in hearing ideas for the other side of the equation.

obgraham
14th Dec 2006, 00:34
Cue the incoming flak and I won't be responding on here. I'm not going to flak you on this, Lima. Except for the UN bit, I'm in complete agreement. Pretty sure Israel would, too. Too bad all those other groups would never agree.

BenThere
14th Dec 2006, 00:41
And even if such an agreement were made, the ink wouldn't be dry before it was violated by factions among the Palestinians, as was the case with the Oslo accords.

They had within their grasp a state under fair terms, but chose the second intifada instead, and strapped bombs on their children so as to murder other children. That's when they lost my empathy.

Blacksheep
14th Dec 2006, 01:17
tony's got it absolutely right. The purpose of the UN secretariat is the preservation of the UNO. The selection of the Secretary General is controlled by the permanent members of the Security Council and conducted in such a way as to ensure that the most inoffensive and ineffectual candidate is chosen.

Kofi has been a great success in running this gentlemen's club for diplomats. He's kept his head down and made just enough noise to attract attention, without actually causing the UN any undue expense. The real work of the UN is done in the back rooms where whole nations are sold down the river in secret deals between the most powerful nations.

Anyone who thinks the UN really matters, might ponder this question. If advanced Aliens from another galaxy were to arrive on Planet Earth, who would they deal with? The Secretary General of the UNO or an extraordinary meeting of the Heads of State of the largest and most powerful nations?

tinpis
14th Dec 2006, 02:13
If advanced Aliens from another galaxy were to arrive on Planet Earth, who would they deal with? The Secretary General of the UNO or an extraordinary meeting of the Heads of State of the largest and most powerful nations?


Er...Bono? :hmm:

West Coast
14th Dec 2006, 02:55
"I am an optimist. Anything is possible if you try"

Thousands of years of history of conflict between the involved parties don't support your optimism. All for giving it a go, with realistic expectations.

GrumpyOldFart
14th Dec 2006, 03:08
Quote:
If advanced Aliens from another galaxy were to arrive on Planet Earth, who would they deal with? The Secretary General of the UNO or an extraordinary meeting of the Heads of State of the largest and most powerful nations?

Er...Bono? :hmm:


No, not Bono.

Bilderberg.

Blacksheep
14th Dec 2006, 07:29
Er...Bono? :hmm: I like it :ok:

Actually I don't see how they could avoid meeting him - he'd be sure to grant them an audience... :hmm:

With a bit of luck, they'd eat him. :suspect:

tony draper
14th Dec 2006, 10:39
I recall when Bob Geldof address the UN council? he puzzled them a bit by saying,
"You people are just tugs and the representatives of tugs":rolleyes:

Spuds McKenzie
14th Dec 2006, 11:01
"You people are just tugs and the representatives of tugs"
Hmmm...did he mean harbour tugs or salvage tugs or tug & tow or aircraft tugs or trailer tugs...? :} :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: