Thursday :: Sep 16, 2004

Kold Kofi

by pessimist

"I am a cheerleader, I am a promoter, I am a salesman, I am a debt collector, I am a father confessor and there are other aspects I still have to discover."
- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan describing his job

Chronology of the Secretary General Election 1996

11 November 1996: The conservative Washington Times newspaper publishes a lengthy interview by editor Arnaud de Borchgrave with Secretary General Boutros-Ghali. When asked why he thinks he will be vetoed by the United States, he says, "It was probably that I was too independent as Secretary General," he says.

Another possible reason for the opposition he faced:

When asked what he considers his greatest accomplishments, he answers: "getting the global community to focus on how to cope with the awesome problems of globalization" in the great global conferences.

The multinationals couldn't have welcomed this! So they got The Best Government Multinational Corporate Campaign Contributions Can Buy to 'take care of the problem' for them:

13 December 1996: (France is blocking Annan, who is seen as the US candidate, while the US and Britain are blocking all the Francophone candidates. There are rumors that US representative Madeleine Albright has met with her French counterpart.) The French have decided to change position and not to veto Annan. The other candidates withdraw and the Council in an informal vote unanimously endorses Annan. Later in the afternoon, the Council holds its formal vote and unanimously elects Under Secretary General Kofi Annan as the UN's seventh Secretary General.

They got their wish, and a man they considered friendly to their interests was installed as the UN Secretary-General. US economic interests promoted and got for UN Secretary-General a man who has a management degree from MIT, cut 1,000 jobs from the 10,000-person UN Secretariat, slashed administrative budgets by one-third, and reduced the United Nations' standing 'peacekeeper' force from 80,000 to 20,000 - all acts similar to good Republican corporate management practices. After all these years, it has to now come as a shock to these economic interests for that same man to turn upon them during their time of putting to practice their globalisation creed, telling them that their War for Iraqi Oil is illegal:

Annan declares Iraq war illegal

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, said the war in Iraq was "illegal". Speaking on the BBC World Service, Mr Annan said the war was "not in conformity" with the UN Security Council or with the UN Charter. Asked if there was legal authority for the war on Iraq, Mr Annan said: "I have stated clearly that it was not in conformity with the security council, with the UN charter."

Key excerpts: Annan interview

Q: So you don't think there was legal authority for the war?

A: I have stated clearly that it was not in conformity with the Security Council - with the UN Charter.

Q: It was illegal?

A: Yes, if you wish.

The Bu$hprano$ aren't gonna like this, Kofi.

Already, the Bu$h capos have unleashed the war whore dogs:

Iraq war allies lash out at Annan

Key states who joined the US-led invasion of Iraq have rejected claims by the United Nations Secretary-General that the war was illegal.

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard said it was entirely valid. Mr Howard, fighting a cliffhanger re-election battle, insisted the invasion was legal. Labelling the international body "paralysed", he said it was incapable of dealing with international crises. "The legal advice we had - and I tabled it at the time - was that the action was entirely valid in international law terms," he said.

And a former Bush administration aide, Randy Scheunemann, branded Mr Annan's comments "outrageous". Scheunemann, a former advisor to the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, accused Mr Annan of trying to influence the outcome of the forthcoming US presidential election. "I think it is outrageous for the Secretary-General, who ultimately works for the member states, to try and supplant his judgement for the judgement of the member states," he told the BBC. "To do this 51 days before an American election reeks of political interference," Scheunemann said.

But I guess it was OK for Bu$h to interfere with the Australian election, eh Scheunemann?

The UK and Japanese governments also responded sharply.

The British government - which has argued that UN resolutions provided a legal basis for intervening to topple Saddam Hussein - said the 2003 invasion was 'not only lawful but necessary'. "We spelt out at the time our reasons for believing the conflict in Iraq was indeed lawful and why we believed it was necessary to uphold those UN resolutions," Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt told the BBC.

Japan's top government spokesperson told a news conference that he would be seeking clarification about the exact significance of Mr Annan's words. "We wish to verify the real meaning by making various inquiries," Hiroyuki Hosoda told a news conference, Agence France Presse reported.

Mr Annan said in an interview with the BBC World Service that "painful lessons" had been learnt since the war in Iraq. "Lessons for the US, the UN and other member states. I think in the end everybody's concluded it's best to work together with our allies and through the UN," he said. When pressed on whether he viewed the invasion of Iraq as illegal, he said: "Yes, if you wish. I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal."

Why wait so long, Kofi? Why didn't you speak up sooner?

The BBC's Susannah Price at UN headquarters in New York says Mr Annan has made similar comments before. He has always said the invasion did not conform with the UN charter - phrasing that was seen as a diplomatic way of saying the war was illegal.

But what did he do about it? Did he muster opposition from the UN member nations to denounce the US and its actions in the Middle East? We doubt, based on this report, that he desired to speak out loudly:

It used to be that the Cold War stymied the United Nations. Today the United States does. It is dominant in politics, economics, culture. To the rest of the world, U.S. foreign policy is "We're Number One-ism" -- an insufferable combination of gloating and bullying.

The United States has its own ill feelings toward the United Nations. Conservatives see the organization as a mob of meddlesome, anti-American nags plotting for world government. (In some Americans' eyes, the United Nations' principal accomplishment is collecting loose change during UNICEF's trick-or-treat fund drives.) Bob Dole got his biggest round of applause during the 1996 presidential campaign when he mocked Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's name. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., threatened to stop all U.S. funding for the United Nations, and many of Helms' Republican colleagues in Congress have proposed U.S. withdrawal.

Kofi Annan is the perfect secretary-general for an age of U.S. triumphalism. Since he took over as secretary-general 13 months ago, Annan has begun to do the improbable: restore America's faith in the United Nations and the United Nations' faith in America. Annan's United Nations has shelved Boutros-Ghali's grand ambitions. Annan is building an organization we can live with, one that is smaller, better run, and more deferential to the United States.

One does not bite the hand that feeds one:

Kofi Annan: Man with a mission

The United States - the richest and most influential UN member - backed Kofi Annan because they saw him as the man to reform the bureaucratic and inefficient UN structure.

One that the United States refused to pay for any longer. They also didn't want a Secretary-General that was going to expect them to do what the UN was intended to do - end world strife. This is what got previous Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in such hot water that the US blocked his re-election as SG.

Boutros-Ghali was criticized for the UN's failure to act during the 1994 Rwandan civil war and genocide, which ultimately killed about 400,000 people. This was primarily due to the lack of support by US. Under the 1949 Genocide Convention, UN action to avert genocide and deliver humanitarian aid was legally required in Rwanda, but with the State Department's public directives, the 1949 Genocide Convention was ignored.

The US's ambassador to the UN, Madeline Albright, studiously avoided any use of the word "genocide." Albright dismissed Boutros-Ghali's requests to jam Rwandan radio broadcasts, which were every day inciting the population to kill Tutsis, saying it was "too expensive."

The Clinton administration, reeling from the recent debacle in Somalia. announced that not only that it would no longer participate in peacekeeping but also that no other nation would be permitted to do so either. The US rejected support even for the small existing UN military observation force that was already there, having been sent to Rwanda in August 1993, following a peace agreement made at Yirusha, Rwanda after the initial Kigali violence.

Ten security council members, led by three African members (Egypt, Guinea-Bissau and Botswana) sponsored a resolution backing Boutros-Ghali to serve a second five-year-term, until the year 2001. However, the United States vetoed a second term for Boutros-Ghali. In addition to the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, South Korea, and Italy did not sponsor the resolution for a second term, although all four of those nations voted in support of Boutros-Ghali (after the US had firmly declared its intention to veto). Boutros-Ghali was the first UN secretary-general to not be elected to a second term in office (although not the first vetoed).

As this piece shows, the United States, when it comes to international relations, apparently has little use for the feelings and aspirations of the rest of the world. George Weekend Warrior Bu$h and his 'Yer either with us or yer against us' foreign 'policy' thus isn't anything new.

Chronology of the Secretary General Election 1996

20 November 1996: The New York Times runs a front page story that reports on the Security Council vote and provides material from a weekend interview the Secretary General [Boutros-Ghali] gave to reporter Barbara Crossette.

"The United States, he suggested, has developed an attitude not unlike that of the Roman Empire. 'Like in Roman times, they have no diplomacy,' he said of Washington in its current mode. 'You don't need diplomacy if you are so powerful.'" Crossette also notes that administration officials are "fond of saying" that the Secretary General has "such a negative, arrogant image that he had become 'radioactive' in Washington."

A 12 November 1996 column by conservative New York Times writer M.L. Rosenthal [took] the United States government to task for not supporting Boutros Ghali for a second term. Rosenthal speaks of "the anger of most U.N. members at the decision to mug the Secretary General" and asserts that "only Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden earned as much respect as this Secretary General." Calling for a compromise of a two-year renewal for Boutros-Ghali, Rosenthal says that in this way President Clinton "would show that the U.S. had not taken leave of common sense, self-interest or a decent respect of the rights and opinions of friends."

And, of course, George Worthless Bu$h has taken the motivations for this attitude to new lows with his 'War on Terra'.

So far, we have seen that the political affiliation of the US government makes no difference as far as the world scene is concerned. Why is this?

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, The U.S. and the U.N.
published November 25, 1996

Writing in the Washington Post, Steven Rosenfeld notes that the [Clinton] Administration has compromised its own support for the U.N. and has "unified just about every nation in the world" against the U.S. What is especially troubling to many Americans who share the vision of a strong U.N. is the decidedly harsh and brazen rhetoric that has accompanied the assault on the Secretary General. The comments of an "unnamed U.S. official" are a case in point. Warning that the U.S. veto was irrevocable, the official stated, "The United States regrets the insistence of other countries on pushing at what is a closed, locked, and bolted door. We are determined to find a new secretary general, and the sooner the other members realize that, the sooner we can move ahead . . . Boutros-Ghali will not be secretary general on Jan. 1 [1997]"

Mr. Ghali was diplomatic as he addressed the U.S. position. He maintained that he could not serve without U.S. support since the U.S. is the major super-power in the world today ...

Some things never change

The U.S. has clearly not established its case ... and there are deep suspicions, particularly in the Arab world. Some suspect, for example, that the U.S. position is based entirely on a personal vendetta ... Other view the U.S. move as a U.S. power play designed to impose its will on the world body.

Remember - this is 1996!

Having failed to establish its case, the harsh U.S. position risks both U.S. credibility and U.N. legitimacy. The crisis has become a defining moment for the U.N. and for the U.S. role in the world body in the post-cold war era. With the U.S. refusing to pay its dues (it owes more in back dues that the entire annual U.N. budget), the U.S. is expending capital in this fight that it simply does not have.

Sounds like the War on Terra, doesn't it?

And by playing into the hands of the far-right critics of the U.N. instead of fighting them, the Administration's position in this effort only seems to further erode U.S. public confidence in the U.N. At the same time, the Administration is damaging U.S. leadership at the U.N. and the damage done here may be to the long-term detriment of the U.S. and the U.N. itself.

PBS' Jim Lehrer covered this at the time:

aired JUNE 20, 1996

JIM LEHRER: Is there any connection between the U.S.'s problems with Boutros-Ghali and one, one--the dues [in] arrears problem, the billion dollars that the U.S. owes the U.N.?

SEC. BURNS: There's no real connection. It's true that we are in debt to the United Nations. The United States is $1.1 billion in arrears to the United Nations. We're not proud of that, and the Clinton administration has asked for full funding of those arrears from the United States Congress. Unfortunately, the Congress has decided that we're not going to pay those arrears, at least not this year. We think that's a shame. We think as the founder of the United Nations, as its leading member, and as the leading financier of the United Nations, we ought to be fully up to date in our commitments.

JIM LEHRER: Is it your feeling that with Boutros-Ghali out of the way, that Congress might change its attitude about ponying up $1.1 billion?

SEC. BURNS: Well, I think the Congress has had, both Democrats and Republicans, a lot of the concerns that we have had, and they've expressed them publicly, that it's just too big an organization, that it doesn't work the way it should, and the reforms have not gone nearly as far as they should, and perhaps with a new secretary-general, someone who is both the world's leading diplomat but also an aggressive reformer of the United Nations, perhaps then Congress would support full funding.

JIM LEHRER: I'm sure we'll hear others about ... the United States is trying to run the United Nations, trying ... to decide who's going to be the U.N. Secretary-General because it's a big bully. The U.S. is taking the position that it must convince [the other nations] it must do this. I mean, it can't just mandate this, is that right?

SEC. BURNS: Certainly, we can't tell the United Nations what to do, but we are the leading country in the United Nations. One out of every three dollars that the United Nations has comes out of American taxpayer pockets [when we pay our dues! - ed]. So we do have influence, and we do have an obligation to the United States and to the American people to lead, and that's what we're trying to do here.

And that is still the excuse for the predations by the United States of the Multinational Corporations upon the sovereignty and freedom of the rest of the world. We've known for a while that both parties are beholden to the multinational interests, and it's also obvious that the current electoral campaign is close only because some of these multinationals didn't get their piece of the action in Iraq. Backing Kerry is their way of getting back at Bu$h, just like backing Annan was their way of getting back at Boutros-Ghali.

One of the things we will have to watch for, assuming that:

* Kerry wins the election

* Bu$hCo doesn't stage or allow a terrorist attack between the election and the inauguration in order to declare martial law and negate any electoral loss

will be to keep John F. Kerry 'honest'. He's already stated that he's going to seek international help in cleaning up the messes of Iraq and Afghanistan, and there is still the issue of nuclear proliferation that is on the verge of escaping any reasonable controls. In other words, there will still be plenty of incentives for US power-mongers to make excuses to go to war, whether or not there might be better ways of dealing with the issues. This will only be heightened by the obvious evidence, some of which I have tried to present, that the US is already losing our premier nation status. Continuing to lose influence, whether through persuasion or fear of military action, is bad for multinational business. Globalisation can't happen if the people rise up against it.

This post is to demonstrate that the process of enhancing the prospects of globalisation is not a domestic partisan issue, that both parties have been involved in the past, and that we have done many things behind the scenes for which we claim the opposite publicly. We have removed the UN Secretary-General for not pleasing us and doing our bidding before, and now that the current Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has taken the bold step of acting upon a moment of conscience over the illegality of the war in Iraq, he's likely to find himself removed as well. It could be in the Dag Hammarskjold way - currently, terrorism has been successfully aimed at aircraft after all. It would then be easy to put someone else into place, someone whose job will be to keep the UN ineffective in any effort to oppose globalisation - something it now appears Kofi Annan has done until his outburst on the Beeb.

The multinationals can't afford to have the UN gain a real leader who follows these words:

"If one word above all is to characterize the role of the secretary-general, it is independence. The holder of this office must never be seen as acting out of fear of, or in an attempt to curry favor with, one state or group of states. . . He must be prepared to resist pressure, criticism, and opposition in depending the charter's call for all member states to respect the "exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities." - Secretary General Boutros Ghali, February 1996

Copyrighted source material contained in this article is presented under the provisions of Fair Use.


This article contains copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of democracy, economic, environmental, human rights, political, scientific, and social justice issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

pessimist :: 6:32 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!