Saturday, April 23, 2005

U.N. Chief's Record Comes Under Fire (Ya Think?)

UN: Washington Post gives Column Lynch the task of building up Kofi Annan in a rather fawning piece of work, but if you get past the smoke screen you see the case that Kofi is halfway done becomes clear.

"My feeling is that Kofi has shrunk in stature somewhat in the last year," said Stephen C. Schlesinger, director of the New School's World Policy Institute and a former U.N. adviser, who still considers him the world's "moral authority." Even as Annan's new chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown of Britain, has taken steps to restore confidence in the United Nations, Schlesinger said, some of these steps have "given the impression that Kofi is kind of losing control." ...But given the United Nations' current crises -- not only the widening oil-for-food scandal, which last week prompted Annan's envoy to North Korea to step aside while investigators examine his ties to a South Korean lobbyist, but also reports of rampant sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers and of favoritism at the U.N. elections division -- Malloch Brown conceded that Annan's "reforms didn't go far enough," leaving him open to attack. ....Annan last fall delivered a wrenching public denouncement of his son for lying to him about his relationship with his employer. He also said he felt that Volcker's report had delivered an "exoneration" of him. "We did not exonerate Kofi Annan," Mark Pieth, a senior member of Volcker's team, told reporters. "We should not brush this off. A certain mea culpa would have been appropriate." On Thursday, a State Department official also disputed Annan's use of the word "exoneration," marking the first time the U.S. government has done so. ...In January, Annan brought in Malloch Brown to clean house, and Malloch Brown has forced out several of Annan's most loyal political advisers. He has also reversed decisions by Annan to pay Sevan's legal fees and to clear Ruud Lubbers, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, of wrongdoing after a U.N. investigation accused him of sexual harassment. He has also highlighted the United Nations' support for the Bush administration's focus on weapons proliferation and terrorism as the prime threats of the day. But now, U.N. officials and delegates from developing countries feel that Annan is trying to accommodate the United States to save himself. "It's bad enough to be a lame duck secretary general and be one under fire," said Columbia's Luck. "But in addition to that, [to] have your legs pulled out from under you by having some of your closest confidants removed, I think it just underlines how much he is a lame duck."

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