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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Anan accepts responsibility

From the BBC

Kofi Anan has accepted responsibility for his role in the Oil-for-food scandal at the UN. This basically amounts to admitting that the whole thing was badly managed - he has already been cleared (despite familial connections) of any illicit or illegal activities, or at least no evidence was found to suggest that he was involved and let's face it: innocent until proven guilty is the way most civilised nations work. I suppose the harshest thing one could say if you believe this judgement is that Anan was incompetent in his role as UN General Secretary.

At least he has put his hand up to it and admitted that since it happened under his watch then he bears some of the responsibility. I say some, not to excuse him, but simply because those who deliberately set out to commit fraud and line their own pockets are hardly blameless.

But what now? I think that at the very least Anan's position is severely compromised and as such he would do well to resign. However it is clear, and has been for some time, that the UN is not working; serious overhauling is needed and perhaps it is time for a new man or woman to step in and undertake that task. But who?

Anyone who suggests John Bolton gets a virtual slap from me!

23 comments:

Shinobi said...

Don't slap me. But just think of all the good things his mustache could bring to the UN. Whiskeryness.... food crums....

Anonymous said...

I shall consider myself to have been virtually slapped.

J.D.

Kav said...

he is just not the right man. In my opinion he will not produce reform, instead he will force the closing of ranks. Whatever his resume/CV says, he is not a diplomat - you have to be diplomatic to be one of them. He is a bully-boy and as much as one might think that the UN needs a firm hand, the last thing it will bow to at this time is a bully-boy from the US. It's a shame that the chap who did the investigation cannot be involved.

hrun said...

Anybody who suggests John Bolton should just answer one simple question: Do you think Bolton would initiate reform that is most advantageous to the UN/world or would he initiate reform that is most advantageous to the US?

Kav said...

The thing is that many might suggest that they were one and the same thing. In some instances it is true that there is an overlap of interest but not always.

hrun said...

Oddly enough, the vast majority of people who say that it's the same thing are Americans. Funny how that goes, isn't it?

Kav said...

True enough but the same might be said for any other country. I think the one thing that sets Americans apart is the fierce pride in their country and that they have things 'right'.
That is a mass generalization, but it is not an attitude I have encountered in many other places (heck most English are embarassed to be thought of as such).
It can be both infuriating and endearing under different circumstances.

hubris said...

John Roberts!

Kav said...

hey, he'd do ;-)

Shinobi said...

I'm sticking with infuriating.

Kav said...

Shinobi, Just been reading comments on Protein Wisdom. I thought that you had a reasonable point and it was a shame to see those idiots jumping down your neck. though somewhat irionic (only a little) when they were also talking about dissenting opinions.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Given the Herculean task he has had on his hands since he began his first term on 1 January 1997, I'd say Mr. Annan has done a bang up job as Sec. General for the U.N. and has no cause to resign.

You were right to give him credit for accepting SOME responsibility for the scandal; That Mr. Annan was man enough to apologize for something that he had no direct hand in, to me speaks volumes about his integrity and character, both qualities of which are lacking in most of today's leaders of the Western (i prefer this term to 'civilized') World. If Mr. Annan should resign solely for this reason, then so should Bush, Blair, Clinton, Oprah, Halle Berry, Matt Lauer, Katie Curic, and anyone else in the world who has had the misfortune of exercising a lapse in judgement.

As my mother always tells me: To err is human, but to forgive is devine.

Has the U.N. been suffering for a while? Yes.

Is it due to Mr. Annan's 'alleged wrongdoing' (now cleared) in the oil scandal? Definitely not.

There are many reasons why the U.N. is flaying. In my humble opinion, most of that lies with the United States refusal to support the organization as other nations continue to do, and have little to do with Mr. Annan's leadership of the U.N.

Unfortunately, I think one of the luxuries we as 'spectators' of world politics are afforded is to be able to judge too quickly and harshly. But were we in Mr. Annan place, or any one else's, who's to say we could do a better job? I for one will be the first to admit that I wouldn't want his job, or Bush's or Clinton's or Blair's because I know I couldn't do have as well as they've done with what they've been given. Yes, they chose their paths, but they have done better (yes, even Bush, much as I despise him, I have to give him that) than I could have done in his role. Let's not be so quick to judge.

Sorry this has turned into an epistle! It was only meant to be a quick comment in support of Mr. Annan : ( so, I'll take my leave here!

Peace and serenity...

Shinobi said...

Thanks for your support Kav. I was thinking about posting about it, since they are stifleing dissent while complaining about someone else stifiling dissent, but I thought that might be too whiney.

Kav said...

Shinobi, I like Protein Wisdom, it makes me smile most of the time. But of course Jeff is not responsible for his commentators. That said sometimes I think he crosses the line and comes across as damn-right nasty. But then, who doesn't - we can't all be perfect like me. :-)

Hubris said...

Not to be a pedant...okay, I'm being a pedant, but there is a distinction between someone (even if the someone is the host) saying something unkind and someone deleting comments, and I see only the latter as being "stifling of dissent."

At Dohiyi Mir, Washington Monthly, and Eschaton, people are vicious to me, but my dissent isn't being stifled.

Kav said...

Hi anon. Thanks for your comment and although I appreciate your points i would like to rebut in defence of my desire for Anan to go. I think that in many ways Kofi Anan has done a cracking job, especially with something like the UN which has so many underlying and long established problems that it is a herculean effort. But (there is a but) his error here was a fundamental flaw in his management - he admitted this. Things went on under his nose - including in his own family and he failed to detect it. In fact he failed to have a system that would combat this corruption until after the fact. Errors of judgement can be forgiven, but when that error is fundamental to the job that you do and potentially compromises your ability to do that job effectively in the future then you must consider your position carefully. By staying Anan could undermine the UN more than his resignation. Making a mistake is not the issue, it is the scale of the mistake that is. It is too easy to paint things as black and white but there are scales of grey in between. Perhaps if he had caught the fraud part way through then this would not be an issue, but he didn't.

Kav said...

Hubris, dissent can be stifled if the dissenter is bullied out of the conversation. A voluntary withdrawal due to vicious attacks could still be classified as dissent. Not that this happened here.

I am always amazed at your resilience in the face of the boundless stupidity and malice that is hurled your way on some of the blogs. I'd have probably given up long before.

hubris said...

I am always amazed at your resilience...

Thanks, but one of these days I'm just...gonna...fuckin'...snap. Then the blogosphere shall truly reap the whirlwind.

I am the web's Alpha and Omega, you shall all feel my wrath, etc.

Shinobi said...

I like Jeff G a lot and his site, I'm mostly entertained by the whole thing.

Hubris is right though, they didn't delete my post, they were just mean. That's what I get for having opinions and stuff. I keep forgetting that not everyone is as reasonable as the Cabal. :-/

Shinobi said...

Blogosphere weather forecast for next week: Hurricane Hubris

Anonymous said...

Kav: Thanks for your prompt response. I see we shall have to agree to disagree, because I still think you are judging one man (who has since been cleared for any wrongdoing) for one relatively minor slip in his near decade of stellar, respectable performance. Compared to the fact that Bush launched the US into a war supposedly for "weapons of mass destruction," that were not only found not to exist, but moreover, lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians and US military men and women, I would say Annan's 'misdeed' is pretty benign. That is, if we're truly looking at the shades of grey between the extremes of black or white.

Kav said...

Anon,
Ha, I don't have much time for Bush at all, or Blair. In fact I would happily have seen them booted out for the mistakes involved in the Iraq war. But just because one group of failures (can of worms there) got away with making mistakes, does that mean we should let everyone get away with huge mistakes.

As for being cleared of wrongdoing, you are quite right. He was found to have done nothing illegal and not to have been involved at all. However, the report does find him guilty of serious managerial mistakes.

This 'relatively minor slip' was actually quite a big slip in his management. And when all is said and done a large part of the job of UN Secretary general is management. An argument could be made that he failed in his primary job. Also you should remember that the fraud involved was not just money, it had direct effects on the lives of the Iraqi people, depriving them of their due. It was not a paper crime.

But as you say, I think we will diagree on this one.

Anonymous said...

Kav: It's all relative. You see the world one way, and I see it another. But yes, we shall have to agree to disagree.

On a much less serious note, kudos to you for being able to air your political views online. I make a conscious effort to keep my blog free from any political discourse just because I know my views are often opposite to everyone else's and I don't want to start any world wars. Though, I must confess, I have been known to divert from this now and then to discuss "very important world issues", such as this year's Oscar winners and losers! lol...