“You have been sat to long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of god, go!.”- Oliver Cromwell, April 1653
A.) THE SEX SCANDALS.
True, the UN has been plagued with them since the early nineties (when that other illustrious UN leader, Boutros Boutros Ghali, ran the show), but under Annan's tenure it got from bad to worse. The proliferation of nuke technology is one thing, the proliferation of sexual misbehaviour by "his" troops yet quite another still, from child exploitation in Haïti and Liberia over prostitution in Kosovo and Bosnia to UN staffers in Sudan picking up children for sex in their white cars, to Jordanian Blue Helmets in Timor sent home with injured penises because they tried their luck with goats. The worst incidents took place in Congo though, as UN "peacekeepers", supposedly assisting war refugees, made teenage girls and women prostitute themselves for food. And it wasn't only the troops. E.g., a French UN logistics expert, Didier Bourguet, now on trial in France, liked screwing literally hundreds of teenage girls so much he shot pornographic videos of his off-road exploits. His lawyer, Claude de Boosere-Lepidi, maintains he was part of a UN pedophile ring active from Africa to southeast Asia. It was in the wake of the 2005 revelations about sexual misconduct during the UN MONUC Operation in Congo, that Annan announced his famous “zero tolerance policy”. We are two years down the road now, and just days ago an article by The Daily Telegraph about the UN Operation in south Sudan had a report about...
... more than 20 victims' accounts claiming that some peacekeeping and civilian staff based in Juba regularly pick up young children in their UN vehicles and force them to have sex.
I suppose it's hard to impose a zero tolerance policy when you're a zero.
B.) THE OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL.
The Oil-for-Food Programme was a UN-devised plan to allow Iraq to buy food, medicine and humanitarian supplies with the income garnered from regulated oil sales, without breaking the sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The purpose was to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Iraqis while keeping a lid on the regime. Through OFF Iraq brought, between 1996 and 2003, oil for an estimated value of 65 billion US$ on the world market. Of this, about 46 billion should have been used for the purchase of humanitarian goods (the rest of the money being meant for war reparations in the Gulf and for financing the program as well as the UNSCOM investigations).
In reality however, individuals and organizations sympathetic to the Iraqi regime were offered oil contracts through OFF. In short, Iraqi oil was secretly sold on the world market and the sellers were allowed to keep a transaction fee, allegedly worth between $0.15 and $0.50/barrel (0.94 and 3.14 $/m³) of oil sold. US Senate investigators estimate the revenue Saddams regime garnered via illicit OFF oil contracts at 13.6bn US$. In addition, it received 4.4 billion more through kickbacks and illegal surcharges on services and goods provided by companies contracted under the OFF programme. The scandal emerged in early 2004, when an Iraqi newspaper published a list of about 270 people including UN officials, politicians and companies. Prominent among these was... the Executive Director of the UN OFF Programme, the Cypriot Benon Sevan , who explained the mysterious sudden appearance of 150,000 US$ on one of his banking accounts as a gift from an aunt on Cyprus who was sadly not able to confirm this version of events on account of unfortunately falling into an elevator shaft and croaking in the process, some time before. That may be, of course. However, another explanation for the magically appearing manna may be that Mr. Sevan was instrumental in soliciting Iraqi oil contracts for a company run by a cousin of Kofi Annan's predecessor, the highly U.N. efficient Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali.
Calling the investigations into a.) Annan's Director of the biggest UN programme ever Benon Sevan, into b.) Annan's Russian procurement officer Alexander Yakovlev, who received 1 million US$ in bribes, into c.) Annans Singaporean Chief of the U.N. Office for Internal Oversight Services Dileep Nair, who allegedly paid an employee with money from the oil-for-food programme, and into d.) who not a Greek drama is not such a stretch since there seems to have been at least one guy with a Greek sounding name on board, e.) Annan's Head of the U.N. Security Council Affairs Division, Joseph Stephanides, who was accused of tainting the competitive bidding process for a company to inspect humanitarian goods entering Iraq under OFF.
But from Greek drama it turned into a family drama when the investigations began to include Kofi's brother Kobina Annan, a Ghanaian ambassador, "family friend" Michael Wilson and more importantly, Kofi's son Kojo, who worked for the Swiss-based company Cotecna Inspection Services SA, which from 1998-2003 held a lucrative contract with the U.N. to monitor goods arriving in Saddam Hussein's Iraq under the oil-for-food program. Sure, documents show that Kojo was not on Cotecna's payroll anymore from late 1998 on. But other documents prove that he mysterioulsy kept receiving payments from Cotecna not only through 1999, but also through 2000, 2001, 2002 and right through November 2003, when coincidentally the UN closed the OFF programme and hence there was no further need for Cotecna Services' services. Poor Kojo, according to his pops "an international businessman", had but a $30,000-a-year job. Still he managed to find a spare 250,000 US dollars somewhere to invest in a Swiss football club. Probably it was a gift from an aunt who shortly thereafter fell off the Kilimanjaro.
Credit for unearthing all this fascinating stuff goes largely to the Investigation Committee led by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who started working in April 2004. As we have seen you have Greek dramas and you have family dramas, but upon entering the Islamic World dramas have since two decades or so a habit of becoming increasingly not done. Possibly that's why Annans Pakistani Chief of Staff, Iqbal Riza, later referred to his seven-month-shredding-of-OFF-documents spree, which he curiously started the day after Volcker's team began to work, as destroying "simply extra copies" of records. In other words, nothing to be seen here folks, just move along. As a UN staffer working at the time at Mr. Riza's office testified, every day the U.N. Chief of Staff was present he spent hours destroying documents in a large paper shredder for public use standing in the middle of the office. It later transpired that these documents included confidential information about the Oil-for-Food programme's crucial first three years from 1997 to 1999, during which Annan shaped and expanded OFF and including the period when the UN hired the services of Cotecna, which as we have seen employed Kofi's son Kojo. When asked for an explanation for the frantic shreddingfest, Mr. Riza replied: "In hindsight, I can say, oh goodness, I shouldn't have."
In 2004, then US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld twice offered his resignation to President Bush because of the so-called Abu Ghraib scandal. One year later, when investigations had disclosed the complicity in the Oil-for-Food scandal of Annan's son, his brother, his brother's friend, his predecessor's cousin, his OFF Director, his Chief of Staff, his Chief of Staff's aide, his Procurement Officer, his UNSC Affairs Division Chief, and his Internal Oversight Office's Chief, to name but a few, Annan was asked whether he contemplated resignation, he replied "Hell, no!"
Keep in mind that after his first five-year term in 2001 Annan and the U.N. got rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for "their work for a better organized and more peaceful world." Annan himself was lauded for "bringing new life to the organization." In 2001 OFF was running on cruise speed and no-one noticed they actually meant the Baath organization.
C.) THE DARFUR SCREWUP AND WHAT PRECEDED IT.
Nothing new under the sun. To understand why an Annan-led U.N. has been pathetically unable to stop the Darfur genocide one needs to go back a decade. To early 1994 to be precisely, when Kofi Annan was Head of the UN's Department of Peackeeping Operations (DPKO). On January 11 of that year, the Canadian general Romeo Dallaire, operational commander of UN troops in Rwanda, cabled Annan: "Since Unamir mandate, he [Jean-Pierre, a source in a Hutu militia - MFBB] has been ordered to register all Tutsis in Kigali. He suspects it is for their extermination. Example he gave was that in 20 minutes his personnel [the Hutu militia] could kill up to 1,000 Tutsis." Dallaire said he planned to raid the Hutu arms caches within the next 36 hours and concluded with "Where there 's a will, there's a way. Let's go.". Annan's response was, in a cable signed by his deputy, a certain Iqbal Riza:
"We must handle this information with caution. No reconnaissance or other action, including response to request for protection, should be taken by Unamir until clear guidance is received from headquarters."
The next day Dallaire's UNAMIR boss, a Cameroon politician with the incongruous name of Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, replied to Annan, backing a furious Dallaire, and emphasising that "Jean-Pierre" only had a maximum of 48 hours before he was due to distribute the arms for the massacres. Again Annan's answer, signed by Riza, was negative, ordering Dallaire not to proceed with the planned raid.
There is a lot to be said about responsibility for failing to quell the 1994 Rwandan genocide and virtually all involved had butter on their heads. Not in the least the Belgian government, whose spineless ministers, like the callous cowards they tend to be, withdrew the Belgian UN para battalion immediately after ten paras were murdered, after which the mass killings carried out by emboldened Hutu extremists basically started for real. Dallaire himself was not flawless. The EU was not flawless. Bill Clinton wasn't flawless either. And the Rwandans themselves, murdering each other like beasts were least flawless of all, a fact which is too often ignored for reasons of fucking political correctness. Later, the UN Security Council explicitly accepted responsibility for failing to prevent the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which an estimated 1,000,000 people were killed. But... Annan was DPKO Director. In the field of players, he was the Coach. He failed miserably. Even as the genocide was well underway, he did nothing, as the top UN boss on the spot, to oppose his mother organization's decision on April 16 to reduce the UNAMIR force to a staff of 270 troops... down from 2,600. Only one month later did the UN authorize the deployment of 5,000 troops, by which time it was far too late. Dallaire has always maintained that if he had had 5,000 well equipped troops from the beginning, he would have been able to stop the murder spree. It was not to be. In Rwanda, Annan got blood on his hands. As he got blood on his hands one year later, when he was AWOL during five crucial days in July 1995 while desperate UNPROFOR troops on the ground tried in vain to get permission for airstrikes against Serb troops about to carry out the Srebrenica massacre.
Ten years later... on April 7, 2004, in New York U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette addresses a U.N. General Assembly meeting to commemorate the 1994 Rwanda genocide in Rwanda, with the words:
Ten years ago, the international community failed Rwanda. None of us -–neither the Security Council, nor the UN Secretariat, nor governments in general, nor the international media -– paid enough attention to the gathering signs of disaster. And once the genocide was under way, none of us did enough to stop it, even when televised images of slaughter were visible all around the world.
Our sorrow is genuine and deep. But sorrow is of no use to the 800,000 people, at least -– men, women and children -– who were left to suffer the most brutal of deaths. It will be of little meaning to future generations, unless it is transformed into something more: into real, concerted action, by the entire international community, to ensure that such a descent into horror is never again permitted.
The Secretary-General regrets that he is not with us today. But his choice of the Commission on Human Rights as the forum for his statement today seems to me highly appropriate.
How some people in important positions don't drop dead on the spot of shame as they are selling sheer and utter crap perfumed with superheated smelly air to a global audience is beyond me. At the very moment that Mrs. Fréchette was ensuring the global community that such a descent into horror never again be permitted, shedding crocodile tears for one million victims of a killing spree her organization failed to prevent, Sudanese government backed janjaweed militia chalked up the 180,000th victim or so of yet another mass murder happening under the nose of the world. Then US Ambassador to the U.N. John Danforth did his best to have the UNSC label the Darfur drama a genocide, which would have forced the U.N. to act decisively as well as offered it an opportunity to make good on its promise never to let a Rwanda happening again. Powell visited Darfur and urged it be called a genocide. But it was all in vain. As Mark Steyn aptly noted one year and 100,000 corpses later:
If you think the case for intervention in Darfur depends on whether or not the Chinese guy raises his hand, sorry, you're not being serious. The good people of Darfur have been entrusted to the legitimacy of the UN for more than two years and it's killing them. In 2004, after months of expressing deep concern, grave concern, deep concern over the graves and deep grave concern over whether the graves were deep enough, Kofi Annan took decisive action and appointed a UN committee to look into what's going on. Eventually, they reported back that it's not genocide.
Actually, taking into account the voting behaviour of the General Assembly the United States were a bit naïve there with their 2004 Darfur Genocide Yes or No Resolution. After all, in 2003 e.g., voting for 85 yes-or-no US proposals in the General Assembly went as follows: Arab League members voted no in 88.7% of the cases; ASEAN members voted no in 84.5% of the cases; Islamic Conference members voted no in 84.1% of the cases; African members voted no in 83.8% of the cases, and Non-Aligned Movement members voted no in 82.7% of the cases. Luckily for the US, they still had their old pals of the European Union, who voted yes in 45.5% of the cases. Keep in mind that Mrs. Fréchette, of ensuring the global community that such a descent into horror never again be permitted fame, was involved in the Oil-for-Food scandal too and that Mr. Annan's choice of the Commission on Human Rights as the forum for the statement above was highly appropriate indeed since the UN Commission on Human Rights included a.o. Burma, Syria, Libya and Zimbabwe, not to forget Sudan. There was of course the case of Mr. Sichan Siv, US Representative for the HR Council walking out of the commission following the uncontested May 4, 2004 election of Sudan to the board of Human Rights Defenders but everyone knows Americans are bullies and harbor grudges against everyone.
When in December 2006, after a decade as U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan finally stepped down, the "President of the World" chose the opportunity to chastize his most important financier and in particular blast President Bush. A speech full of reprimands against the US but which ignored his own plethora of mistakes and failures ended with:
"More than ever today, Americans, like the rest of humanity, need a functioning global system through which the world's people can face global challenges together. And in order to function, the system still cries out for farsighted American leadership in the Truman tradition."
Which only proves that apart from a bad politician, Annan is also a bad historian. Truman did not hesitate to directly intervene militarily in South Korea in 1950 against the communists, and only afterwards cloaked his operation in a UN mantle. As a result of Trumans actions, South Korea today is a prospering democracy, albeit at a cost of some 53,000 dead US soldiers in three years of war - a terrible loss. More than fifty years later, another bold US President intervened directly militarily in two other countries to depose of two of the most horrible regimes the world had ever seen. The struggle is still far from over and the cost of 3,000 US servicemen and -women is a very sad and hard thing to bear - but already, after four years, both these countries have representative, elected governments and parliaments. Annan has been ten years at the helm of the UN. In how many countries where he and his organization intervened directly are there representative, elected governments and parliaments? Bosnia? Kosovo? Is not Congo a quagmire? Somalia? Sudan? In a perfect world, it would be President Bush blasting the epitome of political and human failure, and not the other way round.
But, obviously, this is not a perfect world.