SUDAN WATCH: Time for a Kofi Break - by Glenn Reynolds, WSJ

Monday, November 29, 2004

Time for a Kofi Break - by Glenn Reynolds, WSJ

Don't you love the title of Instapundit's column in today's Wall Street Journal? I do. Our top blogger Glenn Reynolds deserves to be applauded for having the guts to speak out about the U.N. and promoting the idea of replacing Kofi Annan with Vaclav Havel. It's such a milestone of an essay, I am copying it here in full incase the link gets broken. I'll comment more on this later. Just want to get this up here, and at M+O, asap.

Things are going badly for Kofi Annan. The oil-for-food scandal has revealed U.N. behavior regarding Saddam Hussein's Iraq that ranges from criminally inept to outright corrupt. Rape and pedophilia by U.N. peacekeepers haven't gotten the kind of attention they'd get if American troops were involved, but the scandals have begun to take their toll. And the U.N.'s ability to serve its crowning purpose -- the "never again" treatment of genocide that was vowed after the Holocaust, and re-vowed after Cambodia and Rwanda -- is looking less and less credible in the wake of its response to ongoing genocide in Darfur. And finally, the U.N. has so far played no significant role in defusing the Ukrainian crisis.

Things have gotten bad enough that some are calling for Mr. Annan's resignation, amid talk of former Czech President Vaclav Havel as successor. ("Havel for Secretary General" bumper stickers are on the Web.) But however you assess Mr. Havel's chances of becoming secretary general, for Mr. Annan the comparison is devastating. Mr. Havel, after all, is a hero on behalf of freedom: A man who helped bring about the end of communist dominance in Eastern Europe, despite imprisonment and the threat of death -- a man who could write that "Evil must be confronted in its womb and, if it can't be done otherwise, then it has to be dealt with by the use of force." Mr. Annan, by contrast, is a trimmer and temporizer who has stood up for tyrants far more than he has stood up to them.

If the comparison is damning to Kofi, it's even more damning to the U.N. Mr. Havel once wrote Czech dictator Gustav Husak, "So far, you . . . have chosen . . . the path of inner decay for the sake of outward appearances . . . of deepening the spiritual and moral crisis of our society, and ceaselessly degrading human dignity, for the puny sake of protecting your own power." One might say the same of the U.N. bureaucracy.

And that, perhaps, is the only argument against bringing Mr. Havel to the U.N. (Besides the obvious: He probably wouldn't take the job.) The U.N. is losing what shreds of moral legitimacy remain, even among those who were once sympathetic, as the extent of its corruption becomes too obvious to ignore. There's talk of replacing -- or, more diplomatically, supplementing -- the U.N. with a Community of Democracies that would draw its support from legitimate governments, not thugs and kleptocrats. At the very least, it seems likely that the U.N. will soon come under enormous pressure to reform.

But here's a paradox: It's hard to imagine that Mr. Annan could parry the pressure. But a U.N. headed by Mr. Havel might derive enough reflected legitimacy to resist such changes. According to Mr. Annan's Web site, the secretary general is supposed to serve as a "symbol" of U.N. "ideals." It may well be that he's doing that more accurately than Vaclav Havel ever could.

Mr. Reynolds, professor of law at the University of Tennessee, publishes
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Further reading - see previous post here below, and Nov 28, 2004 report Annan stonewalls on U.N. scandal.

UPDATE - what bloggers are saying - this list will be ongoing and added to - please let me know if you post on the U.N. and I will link to you. Thanks.

UPDATE - what bloggers are saying - this list will be ongoing and added to - please let me know if you post on the U.N. and I will link to you. Thanks.

Christopher Johnson at Mayflower: US Senator calls for Annan's resignation; when it comes to Oil-For-Food, Annan is guilty of, as Senator Coleman said, nothing "other than incompetence and mismanagement."

Jim Moore at the Passion: Glenn Reynolds on replacing Kofi Annan with former Czech President Vaclav Havel.

Norman Geras of normblog in England writes on the UN's biggest scandal.

Christopher Johnson of Mayflower Hill in America links to the Vaclav Havel for Secretary-General banner.

A rant about Kofi Annan by Blimpish on October 17, 2004. In a comment here today, Blimpish says: "Chrenkoff reckons Polish President Kwasniewski would be a better bet, and I think I agree. Much though Havel is one of my heroes, he's not enough of a pol to make it work."


October 17, 2004 Cox & Forkum: Hot Water
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November 19, 2004 Cox & Forkum Annan Threat

[Thanks to Misspent in the October 17, 2004, comments at Blimpish]


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