Earlier this year, Mr. Annan was also forced to place eight senior U.N. procurement officials on leave pending investigations on bribery and other charges. Vladimir Kuznetsov, the head of the U.N. budget-oversight committee, was indicted this year on money-laundering charges. Alexander Yakovlev, another procurement official, pled guilty to skimming nearly $1 million off U.N. contracts. The U.N.'s own office of Internal Oversight found that U.N. peacekeeping operations had mismanaged some $300 million in expenditures.
Mr. Annan's response to all this has been a model of blame-shifting, obfuscation and patently insincere mea culpas, apparently justified by his view that a Secretary General has more important things to do than administer his own organization. But allow the Secretary General the conceit that his real job is acting as the world's most important diplomat. How has he performed in that task?
Mr. Annan came to office after a stint as head of U.N. peacekeeping operations. The period corresponded with the massacre in Srebenica of 7,000 Bosnians and the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda, both of which were facilitated by the nonfeasance of peacekeepers on the ground. It was later revealed that Mr. Annan's office explicitly forbade peacekeepers from raiding Hutu arms caches in Rwanda just four months before the genocide.
The world's worst man-made humanitarian catastrophes have since taken place in Zimbabwe, North Korea, Congo and Darfur. Mr. Annan has been mostly silent about the first two, perhaps on the time-honored U.N. principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states other than the U.S. In the Congo, U.N. peacekeepers haven't stopped the bloodshed, but they have made themselves notorious as sexual predators.
By contrast, Mr. Annan has been voluble on Darfur: In his speech at the Truman Library, he argued that the lesson of Darfur is that "high sounding doctrines like the 'responsibility to protect' will remain pure rhetoric unless and until those with the power to intervene effectively--by exerting political, economic, or, in the last resort, military muscle--are prepared to take the lead." Nice words.
However, it is amazing that Mr. Annan should utter them, given his own role in obstructing "those with the power to intervene effectively"--namely the U.S.--in other situations. Mr. Annan's first great solo diplomatic venture came in early 1998, when he ran interference for Saddam Hussein to forestall military strikes by the Clinton Administration. Saddam, he said at the time, was a man with whom he could "do business." He did the same in the run-up to the Iraq War and did the terrorist insurgency a moral service by pronouncing that war "illegal." Given that Saddam was killing his own people at an average rate of 36,000 a year, what does this say about Mr. Annan's solicitude for the oppressed?
As Secretary-General Annan prepares to leave his post at the United Nations, a mystery is surfacing surrounding his apartment on Roosevelt Island, subsidized by New York taxpayers, which is still in use by the family of his brother, Kobina Annan.
The apartment was where Mr. Annan and his wife lived before 1997, when he became secretary-general. The Roosevelt Island home is part of an estate of low-rent state-regulated housing. For years, the Annans saved considerable sums by occupying an apartment meant to help financially strapped low- to moderate-income New York families.
One question Mr. Annan has never addressed is why he and his wife felt comfortable availing themselves of this generous arrangement. Another is how it is that, since Mr. Annan and his wife left that Roosevelt Island apartment 10 years ago to move into the rent-free residence on Sutton Place supplied to the secretary-general, their former low-rent apartment was handed over to be occupied by the family of Mr. Annan's brother.
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