PETRAS ESSAYS IN ENGLISH

Aug 12, 2002

Wanted: A UN Secretary General with integrity


James Petras

Many progressives around the world looked to the United Nations Organization (UNO ) as the best institution for peacefully resolving conflicts and serving the cause of justice, free from the control of big power interests. Within the UNO, the secretary general was looked upon as a person of fairness, integrity and, above all, independent of big power persuasion. For some post-modern leftists like Toni Negri, the UNO was a new model for global governance.

Recent history teaches us a different lesson the utter bankruptcy of the UNO as an institution for peace and the moral decay of the of the office of the Secretary General under Kofi Annam. Time and again we have seen the UNO stand passive or actually collaborate in the face of wars of aggression, ethnic cleansing and economic genocide.

To be fair, the UNO, in previous decades was far from a perfect organization and the Secretary General usually was a person who avoided confrontations with great powers particularly the NATO countries. But in the 1970's and up to the early 1980's, the General Assembly consistently criticized the inequalities between the North and the South, and proposed a new world order in which the Third World would receive the technical and financial aid necessary for social and economic development. Then Secretary General Kurt Waldheim refused to buckle under US pressure and took an even handed approach to the Middle East, opposing the Israeli Occupation and supporting a two state solution. Even Boutros-Gali, who initially was supported by Washington and was Annam's predecessor opposed the Israeli occupation and favored a more active multi-lateral conference involving Europe. Washington opposed his re-election, despite his otherwise pro- Western views.

Kofi Annam was the pre-selected candidate of Washington for the Secretary- Generalship. Packaged as a "representative from Africa", Annam was elected thanks to heavy US intervention, bribes and threats with its African and Latin American clients and aid recipients. Annam did not have an independent political base of support, he was a virtual unknown to the general public, but he was known in Washington, as a pliable candidate who could be counted on to carry out orders on all questions of importance to the US. True to his vocation, Kofi has earned the title of " The Messanger" in UN circles, for his ability to transmit Washington's orders to the world community.

Under Annam several key UN officials critical of the US policies on humanitarian grounds have been forced to resign; aggressive wars have been condoned and the UN has provided military occupation forces ("peace keepers") to consolidate the imperial victories. Under Annam over a million Iraqis have perished, as he has refused to condemn the embargo and forced the resignation of two vice-secretary generals of the UNO in charge of the "Petroleum for Food" programs who criticized the US-directed embargo as a humanitarian disaster. Under Annam, the UNO has covered up crimes against humanity committed by the US and its Israeli ally. Finally no Secretary General has been more blatantly and publically identified with the free market and the multinationals as Kofi Annam.

His record speaks for itself:

When the US organized the deadly embargo against Iraq, Annam administered it providing a UN cover for a program which prevented Iraq from rebuilding its basic infrastructure to supply clean water, an adequate food supply and pharmaceuticals. More ever he knowingly allowed a UN weapons inspection team , infiltrated by US spies, to secure information used in US bombings. The former Chief UN Weapons Inspector in Iraq ( 1991-1997) , Rolf Ekeus recently confirmed that Annam withdrew the UN inspectors in the late 1990's when Washington informed Annam that they were planning to bomb Baghdad. Later, Annam repeated Washington's lie that Iraq had dismissed the UN inspection team. Throughout Annam has refused to negotiate over the nature of the inspection process despite the admitted espionage of the previous mission repeating Washington's "no conditions".

Two distinguished international civil servants, Denis Haliday and Hans Von Sponeck, who served under Annam as humanitarian coordinators in Iraq between 1997-2000 resigned in protest against the prolongation of the embargo and the Secretary General's acquiescence.

Bustani, an outstanding Brazilian in charge of supervising United Nations Commission against the chemical and biological weaponry charged that the United States led the campaign to oust him. Annam welcomed his replacement.

Mary Robinson, the former Irish President and renowned humanitarian, was forced by Washington to resign as UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Annam thanked her for her service and welcomed her replacement.

During the US and NATO attacks on Yugoslavia, Annam never voiced any criticism of the bombing of civilian targets hospitals, waterworks, television stations. Annam's UN mission in Kosova did not act to prevent the murder of over 2,000 people and the forced flight of 200,000 non-Albanians by the KLA after the war. Instead Annam harmonized his rhetoric about the humanitarian nature of NATO's war.

As the world-wide opposition to the World Trade Organization grew and the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre gained world attention, Annam flew to Davos, Switzerland and gave an unprecedented UN endorsement to "free markets" and "globalization" to the meeting of billionaires and corporate officials. Never before had a Secretary General made such an unequivocally favorable statement in defense of the most corrupt and exploitative economic institutions of our time.

More recently Annam has served his Washington masters in covering up crimes against humanity . After the Israeli destruction of Jenin, where thousands were made homeless and hundreds of civilians were killed or wounded, Annam sent a commission to Jenin to "investigate" the extent of the human catastrophe. Depending on Israeli sources , ignoring Palestinian medical and humanitarian agencies, Annam's commission declared there was no massacre, since they could only identify 53 deaths, including 26 civilians. Israeli and US mass media broadcast the "no massacre" propaganda in an attempt to discredit the Palestinians and all critics of Israeli violence while Annam hypocritically remained in the background.

Shortly thereafter Washington was again in deep trouble for the killing of scores of Afghan villagers. Annam sent another commission to Afghanistan. This time the preliminary report indicated that a massacre had occurred and that the US forces entered the scene of the crime and removed damning evidence. When the preliminary report was leaked to the press, Washington's faithful servant Kofi intervened and the report was edited to accommodate the Bush Administration. The full report was never made public.

Kofi Annam has set new standards for appointment as Secretary General of the United Nations: Servility to Washington, agility in doctoring reports to convenience the Western powers, acquiescence in the firing of dedicated humanitarian officials, and moral blindness to imperial depredations.

There is no doubt that Annam has served the US empire well, but he has done a great disservice to humanity, particularly the millions in the Middle East, South Asia and the Balkans. His pious and empty phrases deceive no one. Under his leadership the UN has degenerated, its mission degraded from an instrument of peace and justice into an organization of war, whose officials enrich themselves covering up the atrocities of Washington and its allies. Nowhere is this more evident than in Kosova where, it has been observed, that UN officials are not only the best customers in the brothels housing teenage girls, but some may have formed joint business ventures with the Albanian entrepreneurs- freed from the restrictions of the now destroyed Yugoslav State. No doubt Kofi Annam will write this up as another successful United Nations humanitarian mission. Who will nominate Kofi for the Nobel Peace Prize Rumsfeld or the grateful KLA?