Monday, January 03, 2005

UN can't buy respect anymore

While there have always been critics of the UN, the gross malfeasance of the bureaucracy is becoming obvious even to the casual observer. The ludicrous posturings by Kofi Annan and assorted co-dependent bureaucrats in the wake of the tsunami disaster are just the most recent insults.

Back before Christmas, Kenneth L. Cain, a former UN human-rights officer, wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
A debate currently rages about whether Kofi Annan enjoys the moral authority to lead the United Nations because the Oil for Food scandal happened under his command. That debate is 10 years too late and addresses the wrong subject. The salient indictment of Mr. Annan's leadership is lethal cowardice, not corruption; the evidence is genocide, not oil. [...]

Liberal multilateralists on the left, like me, are often skittish about offering too pungent a critique of Mr. Annan, because it offers aid and comfort to the "enemy" on the conservative unilateralist right. But if anyone's values have been betrayed at the U.N. over the past decade it is those of us who believe most deeply in the organization's ideals. Just ask the men and women of Rwanda and Srebrenica.

Claudia Rosett, who has written reams about the Oil-for-Food scandal, calls for regime change at the UN:
...The Secretariat has had a year of gagging contractors, threatening the jobs of whistle-blowers, and pounding out letters to the editor explaining that the Secretariat should not be blamed for anything because it is in fact responsible for nothing--though somehow more money, especially from the U.S., is always wanted. A few senior officials are now due to depart. Several thick reports on various fronts are due to be filed, and perhaps here or there a head will roll.

But to suppose that the United Nations will reform itself from within is to miss the eerie unreality of the place. It is not simply changes in some of the staffing that are needed, or U.N. commissioned reports recommending that the U.N. "reform" by way of doing even more of whatever it does already. What's needed is something that among sovereign states we have come to call regime change--the basic alteration of a system that in its privileges, immunities and practices resembles rather too closely some of the dictatorships that still pack its ranks.

Over at, Joe Katzman explains the origins of the term "Toyota Taliban" referring to UN and NGO (non-governmental organization) aid workers living in luxury in Afghanistan. He also links to other articles on the topic, such as these from Roger L. Simon, Diplomad, and Instapundit.

Actually, you should check out The Diplomad blog regularly to keep up with the on-going UN relief farce. From today's post:
Day 9 of the tsunami crisis.

I know I had promised to lay off the UN for a bit . . . but I can't. As one reader commented on a previous Diplomad posting on the UN, "it's like watching a train wreck" -- you know it's horrible, but you've just got to look at it.

In this part of the tsunami-wrecked Far Abroad, the UN is still nowhere to be seen where it counts, i.e., feeding and helping victims. The relief effort continues to be a US-Australia effort, with Singapore now in and coordinating closely with the US and Australia. Other countries are also signing up to be part of the US-Australia effort. Nobody wants to be "coordinated" by the UN. The local UN reps are getting desperate. They're calling for yet another meeting this afternoon; they've flown in more UN big shots to lecture us all on "coordination" and the need to work together, i.e., let the UN take credit. With Kofi about to arrive for a big conference, the UNocrats are scrambling to show something, anything as a UN accomplishment. Don't be surprised if they claim that the USS Abraham Lincoln is under UN control and that President Lincoln was a strong supporter of the UN.

Maybe watching the UN flounder is not like watching a train wreck; perhaps it's more akin to watching an Ed Wood movie or reading Maureen Dowd or Margo Kingston -- so horrible, so pathetic, that it transforms into a thing of perverse beauty. The only problem, of course, is that real people are dying.
Speaking of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), the US Navy has a photo gallery online of relief efforts. (Hat tip Instapundit.)

Mark Steyn provides a wry commentary:

But the waters recede and the familiar contours of the political landscape re-emerge - in this case, the need to fit everything to the Great Universal Theory of the age, that whatever happens, the real issue is the rottenness of America. [...] But even Telegraph readers subscribe to the Great Universal Theory. On our Letters Page, Robert Eddison dismissed the "paltry $15 million from Washington" as "worse than stingy. The offer - since shamefacedly upped to $35 million - equates to what? Three oil tycoons' combined annual salary?"

Mr Eddison concluded with a stirring plea to the wicked Americans to mend their ways: "If Washington is to lay any claim to the moral, as distinct from the military, high ground, let it emulate Ireland and Norway's prompt and proportionate attempts to plug South-East Asia's gaping gap of need and help avert a further 80,000 deaths from infection and untreated wounds."

If America were to emulate Ireland and Norway, there'd be a lot more dead Indonesians and Sri Lankans. Mr Eddison may not have noticed, but the actual relief effort going on right now is being done by the Yanks: it's the USAF and a couple of diverted naval groups shuttling in food and medicine, with solid help from the Aussies, Singapore and a couple of others. The Irish can't fly in relief supplies, because they don't have any C-130s. All they can do is wait for the UN to swing by and pick up their cheque.

Meanwhile, Belmont Club reflects about why the UN keeps insisting that it should be in charge (also see here and here).
In the matter of providing relief for tsunami victims, the UN cannot afford to assume any other attitude than a reluctant willingness to stoop to command the national contingents. For the United Nations to abandon its claim to primacy in the tsunami relief effort is the equivalent of renouncing its scepter as the 'sole source of legitimacy' and the only fount of 'moral authority'. For no danger is so great to international organizations and Kings as the peril of being proved unnecessary. Though almost almost none of the food, supplies and logistical systems to provide relief have so far have come from the World Body, it appears existentially important to it that what has arrived wear the livery of the United Nations.