Kofi Annan's Legacy of Failure
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan delivered his swan song today at the Truman Presidential Library in Missouri. It was a thinly veiled parting shot at U.S. foreign policy delivered by an embittered U.N. leader seething with self-righteous indignation and resentment. Annan's Missouri speech will go down in history as one of the most blatant assaults on a U.S. administration by a serving U.N. official.
In his condescending remarks, Annan warned, with Washington clearly in his sights, that "no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others." In reference to the U.S.-led war on terror, Annan stated that America's position in the "vanguard of the global human rights movementâ¦can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism. When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends are naturally troubled and confused." In a clear jab at the Iraq war, he warned that "no state can make its own actions legitimate in the eyes of others. When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purposeâfor broadly shared aimsâin accordance with broadly accepted norms."
Annan's speech followed his recent interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, in which he suggested that Iraqis were worse off today than they were under Saddam Hussein. The interview sparked outrage in Baghdad, and Annan's comments were condemned by Iraq's National Security Adviser Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie, who pointedly asked, "Doesn't Kofi Annan differentiate between the mass killing of Iraqis by the security and intelligence apparatus of Saddam Hussein and the present indiscriminate killings of civilians, Iraqi civilians, by the al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq?"
Annan has a long track record of opposition to the U.S.-led war to remove Saddam Hussein from power, as well as to the wider conduct of the global war on terror. The people of Iraq owe no debt of gratitude to Annan, who consistently ignored their suffering, opposed their liberation, and actively undermined Coalition efforts to establish security and rebuild the country. As Iraq's interim defense minister Hazem Sha'alan remarked, "Where was Kofi Annan when Saddam Hussein was slaughtering the Iraqi people like sheep?" The Iraq war undermined Annan's own position as a world leader and exposed the U.N.'s growing impotence in the post-9/11 era. It also exposed the huge degree of corruption and mismanagement involving the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food Program, an epic scandal that continues to unfold.
Annan's departure from office has not come soon enough. His 10 years in power have been a monumental failure, and he leaves behind an institution whose standing could barely be lower and a legacy that is a testament to mismanagement, corruption, and anti-Americanism. Over the past 12 years, the U.N. has been dominated by scandal, division, and failure. From the disaster of the U.N. peacekeeping missions in Rwanda and Bosnia in the mid-1990s to the U.N.'s slow response to the Sudan genocide, its recent track record has been spectacularly unimpressive. His successor will inherit a U.N. whose image has slipped to an all-time low.