NoonShadow

An expat's commentary on current events in national security, foreign affairs, the media, culture, technology and assorted trivia.

Friday, April 22, 2005

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One down, one to go

The AP says that 'UN Official No. 2' is Maurice Strong, Canadian businessman, environmentalist, and until this week, the UN's special envoy to North Korea.

Details here:

...Last week, U.S. Attorney David Kelley filed charges against three people allegedly connected to oil-for-food, including a South Korean businessman with ties to current and past U.N. officials such as former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, according to staff.

The Kelley complaint against the South Korean, Tongsun Park, cited two high-ranking U.N. officials - identified only as "official 1" and "official 2." It said Park met them in an apparent bid to influence the ultimate design of the oil-for-food program, and doesn't rule out the possibility that they may have been bribed.

According to the complaint, Park invested $1 million in a company run by the son of one of the officials. The company later folded

And on Wednesday, Annan's special envoy for North Korea, Maurice Strong, stepped aside after he acknowledged business ties with Park. The Volcker committee is investigating Strong's possible role in oil-for-food, while Strong denies he had anything to do with the program.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reported Thursday that Strong conceded it was his son, Frederick Strong, who ran the company in which Park invested money. That would make Maurice Strong "official 2."


(Emphasis added.)

The smart money says that 'UN Official No. 2' is Benon Sevan, head of the UN's corruption syndicate known as Oil - for - Food - and - Palaces - and - Weapons - and - UN - bureaucrats - and - their - families.

Shouldn't be too much longer before the rats in the UN start turning on one another.



Thursday, April 21, 2005

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Who are UN Official No. 1 and UN Official No. 2?

The UN can't be trusted to investigate properly it myriad of sins, crimes and transgressions, but perhaps America's FBI can:

THE FBI is closing in on two senior officials at the UN as prosecutors vow to “wring the towel dry” in their investigation of the Oil-for-Food corruption scandal.

The two unnamed “high-ranking officials” were allegedly offered bribes by a North Korean-born businessman, previously linked to South Korean intelligence, working secretly for Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.

The investigation by the FBI’s white-collar crime and counter-intelligence units represents a challenge to the UN’s credibility and legitimacy and could jeopardise its survival.

A senior Western diplomat said yesterday that the scandal meant that Kofi Annan was “not wholly safe” as UN Secretary-General, a job he holds until the end of next year...

The allegations have raised questions about a trip in June 1993 that Dr Boutros Ghali made to Geneva to meet Tariq Aziz, then the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister. The UN is refusing to release a list of officials who accompanied him...


The FBI's legal papers mention that two top UN officials had all sorts of dirty deals going on. Who are 'UN Official No. 1' and 'UN Official No. 2'?

I guess an easier question would be who at the UN was not on the take?



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Blue Helmets and Purple Helmets, v.4

The Economist (subscription req'd) reports that UN peacekeepers have left enough children behind in Liberia to populate a small town:

THE UNECO children's centre looks like any other Liberian school. Its pupils wear smartish uniforms and are eager, after 14 years of civil war and not much schooling, to learn. What is unusual is that every child at UNECO has been fathered by a foreign peacekeeper and then abandoned. The centre was founded by Dr Abraham Cole, a local teacher, “to show our gratitude to peacekeepers by taking care of their children.”

Despite its name, the school receives no UN support besides food from the World Food Programme. Most of the 136 children at UNECO and a similar centre further north were conceived during the 1990s, when both the UN and Liberia's West African neighbours sent troops to Liberia. The number of abandoned babies is now set to surge, however. For the past 18 months, Liberia has hosted one of the largest and most successful UN peacekeeping missions, whose 15,000 blue helmets have now been around long enough to make more babies. A UN staffer said he expected 1,500 UN babies by the end of next year.

These children are not orphans. Their fathers are mostly alive, but have finished their tour of duty and gone home, often to waiting wives. Their Liberian mothers abandon them either because they are poor, or because they have married a Liberian man who does not want a half-Nigerian child in his home.

In a broken state like Liberia, where 80% of the population live on less than 50 cents a day and women can be seduced by the promise of a mobile-phone scratch card, it is not easy to keep well-paid soldiers chaste. But it would be nice if the UN tried a bit harder. After a scandal in Congo last year, when Moroccan UN peacekeepers were charged with raping 13-year-olds, Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, proclaimed a policy of “zero tolerance” for sexual exploitation. A report by Jordan's UN ambassador called for deductions from absentee fathers' salaries and courts martial in the country where any sexual offence takes place. But in practice, erring peacekeepers are rarely punished. Absentee fathers, rapists and even murderers simply disappear back home...

Dr Cole visits barracks to persuade peacekeepers and their “camp girlfriends” to use condoms (the UN issues five per man per week), but it is not an easy task. Soldiers are inured to risk. And though Dr Cole has written to the UN asking for help with his school, he has yet to receive a reply.


(Emphasis added.)


Don't hold your breath, Pops.

The UN needs to get a grip on its blue-helmeted warriors of love.

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Exempt from ethics rules and immune from prosecution

Another UN bigwig found to be on the take:

The United Nations' special envoy to North Korea, Maurice F. Strong, decided Wednesday to step aside until U.N.-appointed investigators and federal prosecutors finish examining his financial ties to a South Korean lobbyist accused of trying to bribe U.N. officials...

Strong, a Canadian entrepreneur and environmentalist, acknowledged Monday that Park had invested money in a business he was "associated with" in 1997 and later advised him on his dealings with Pyongyang...

Annan said this week that he had been unaware of Strong's financial ties to Park, who was at the center of a congressional influence-peddling scandal in the 1970s. Annan is reviewing a policy that exempts senior officials who, like Strong, take on part-time assignments from disclosing potential financial conflicts of interest, Dujarric said.


(Emphasis added.)

Why the exemption in the first place?

Immune from criminal prosecution and immune from the UN's own ethics rules - quite a sweet setup. That seems a good explanation for the tremendous arrogance.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

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Fox kills chickens, blames barking dogs.

I didn't bother posting on Kofi Annan's hyper-defensive comments that the US and UK were also responsible for Oil-for-Food, because they got plenty of press elsewhere.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday the United States and Britain bore part of the blame in the Iraq oil-for-food debacle by allowing unsupervised oil exports that Saddam Hussein exploited.


Patently ridiculous, of course. Just at first blush, there are two different types of sins:
- sins of omission (not preventing something illegal or wrong), and
- sins of commission (active malfeasance, eg, Benon Sevan and Kojo Annan and whomever else snaffling up blood money, taken from hungry needed Iraqi children).

Whatever.

The best, pithiest comment about Don Kofi's whining was from a blogger somewhere and I apologise to whoever he is because I read it in passing and it stuch with me and now I cannot find his website.


On Kofi Annan's comments that the US & UK bears responsibility for the multi-billion dollar bribes and embezzlement Oil - for - Food - and - Palaces - and - Weapons - and - UN - bureaucrats - and - their - families scandal, he said:

"Fox kills chickens, blames barking dogs."


Great stuff.

(I will update with his name and URL if I can find the site again.)


UPDATE: Got it! It comes from the always excellent Perry de Havilland on the redoubtable Samizdata website.



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Quote for the day

Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end; there it is.

- Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)
British statesman and author

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Blue Helmets and Purple Helmets, v.3

Another installment in the recurring series of 'Blue Helmets and Purple Helmets'

BH & PH, v. 1: here

BH & PH, v. 2: here

Let's review the UN's statements on the matter of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning UN peacekeeping force's violent sexual proclivities.

In 1993, U.N. peacekeepers in Cambodia were charged with sexually abusing girls. At the time, the U.N.'s top official in Cambodia, Yasushi Akashi, played down the gravity of the allegations, saying, "Boys will be boys."

In 2002, the UN investigated claims that UN peacekeepers in West Africa are serial rapists and pedophiles, and found the claims baseless, even though independent studies concluded they were well-founded.

In 2004, confronted by incontrovertible evidence, the UN admitted, in a 'modified limited hangout' that, yes, there were a few cases, but only by a very few bad people and only in one place.

In 2005, the UN admitted that sexual abuse, gang rape, pedophilia, and sex trafficking is, in fact, a big problem in every UN peacekeeping operation.


23 October 2002 (BBC)
The United Nations has rejected allegations that any of its peacekeepers and aid agency workers have been engaged in the sexual exploitation of refugees in West Africa. An internal UN report says a six-month probe has been unable to confirm any of the cases of alleged abuse that had been detailed during an independent investigation last February.

The allegations of widespread sexual abuse involving locally-employed UN staff in West Africa sent a wave of horror and embarrassed shame through the entire organisation. The reports, which emerged from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, spoke of aid workers and peacekeepers obtaining sexual favours from refugees, mostly young girls, in exchange for food.

The practice seemed to have been confirmed in an investigation by independent consultants appointed jointly by the UN's own refugee agency and the British-based charity Save the Children. But now, the UN has concluded that the main allegations are baseless.

Indeed, a UN spokesman, Dileep Nair, chided those involved in the original investigation. "The consultants' allegations of widespread sexual exploitation by UN aid workers and peacekeepers cannot be substantiated," he said. "Indeed, we feel the consultants' report unfairly tarnished the reputation and credibility of a large majority of UN aid workers and peacekeepers who are out there in the field."

Mr Nair said that in some cases, the alleged victims' accounts have since been discredited, in others, efforts to identify the victims had been unsuccessful. Mr Nair acknowledged a handful of incidents which he said had been properly dealt with, and he acknowledged that sexual harassment in the camps of West Africa was an issue. However he said it was not an issue for which the aid workers themselves were directly responsible.



That, my friends, is a vociferous denial.

Silly Dileep, you don't set a fox to investigate who was the critter that raided the henhouse!

Cue Didier Bourguet, the Frenchman who, though he may be both a senior UN official and a pedophile criminal, also provided a real public service... by videotaping some of his exploits. (On his PC "hard drive were thousands of photos of him having sex with hundreds of young Congolese girls.") More info here.

So shut up, Dileep Nair (who himself stands accused of sexual harassment and of using Oil-for-Food money to hire a deputy that did no work).

The video evidence finally made Kofi Annan speak up:



19 November 2004 (BBC)
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has said there is clear evidence that UN staff sexually abused refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Allegations of abuse at UN camps surfaced last year, prompting the UN's internal watchdog to launch an inquiry. After being briefed on its progress, Mr Annan said a small number of civilian and military personnel had committed "shameful" acts of gross misconduct. He added that those involved must be held accountable. Two years ago, a UN investigation rejected similar allegations of sexual exploitation of refugees by UN staff in West Africa.

In a statement released in Nairobi, Mr Annan said he had received a "detailed briefing... about the investigations which the UN initiated some time ago into allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by both civilian and military peacekeeping personnel in the DRC". He added: "I am afraid there is clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place. This is a shameful thing for the United Nations to have to say, and I am absolutely outraged by it."
...



Of course, that was a transparent attempt to maintain the tissue of lies that in West Africa, the UN peacekeepers are self-sacrificing heroes, whilst it was only in Congo that a few bad apples had brought shame on the noble peacekeeping operations. (These bad apples apparently amused themselves by activities such as the gang-rape of children as young as 12.)

Of course, later, facts rudely presented themselves and out UN betters were forced to admit that it wasn't, after all, only in the Congo:



27 Feb 2005 (Reuters) (sorry, link has expired, but it was here at the time)

U.N. officials fear the sex-abuse scandal among peacekeepers in Africa is far more widespread and appears to be a problem in each of the global body’s 16 missions around the world.

Rocked by widespread abuse of women and girls, including gang rape, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations also has found sexual exploitation cases in at least four other missions—in Burundi, Liberia, Ivory Coast—as well as more recently in Haiti, they added.

"We think this will look worse before it begins to look better,” Jane Holl Lute, assistant secretary general for peacekeeping operations, told reporters. “We expect that more information will come from every mission on allegations. We are prepared for that."


(Emphasis added.)


They are not just in Africa, Kofi.

Credible allegations have come in from every UN peacekeeping allegation around the globe, including Cambodia, Kosovo, and Haiti.

That makes it every single inhabited continent.

Where could they have developed such voracious appetites for violence and rapine? How could they have learned such habits?

In the early 1990s, Kofi Annan was the head of UN Peacekeeping Operations.



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Another shoe to drop...

Screenwriter and blogger extraordinaire Roger L. Simon lays it out for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:


... this political game is being played out against a backdrop of escalating and seemingly endless corruption at the UN itself, which makes the question of Bolton's manners into a ludicrous sideshow. With Kofi Annan's adviser Canadian businessman Maurice Strong under fire, his Chef de Cabinet having resigned for destroying three-year's worth of documents, his first-ever deputy secretary general under a cloud for enabling 8-billion dollars worth of embezzlement (of money for starving children!), his own son having profiteered off the same scandal (not to mention the mother-of-all corrupt UN sleaze bags Benon Sevan and all the others we will soon know about), if Kofi himself isn't guilty, he's the only one in the Sectariat Building who isn't.

And now we have the rumors that two of the key lawyers on the "independent" inquiry committee into the scandal have resigned. If that's true, you can bet on one thing - they didn't quit because the investigation was being too thorough.


He didn't even mention the UN employees' union giving Kofi Annan a vote of no confidence, or the UNHCR chairman resigning over sexual harassment, or the UN's chief election monitor and its chief auditor in hot water over the same issue, or the pedophilia rings among UN peacekeepers all across the globe (the existence of which the UN vigorously denied in 2002 until a mountain of indisputable evidence, eg, video, was brought to light).

But hey, totting up all of the UN's crimes and sins would make War and Peace look like a penny dreadful.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

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German work ethic, R. I. P.

The London correspondent for German daily newspaper Die Welt writes in the BBC of the German politician who reminded his audience that

(Germany) has the youngest old-age pensioners, the oldest students, the shortest working hours and the longest holidays.


Besides the corrosive effect on the vaunted German work ethic, the short work careers exarcebate the catastrophic German pension funding crisis rolling drown the tracks, picking up speed.

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Swedish voice objects to UN's complicity in genocide, graft, hypocrisy

Per Ahlmark, former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, has some interesting observations on the UN's current state:


Make the UN Stand For Freedom

For Sweden, my homeland, the United Nations is a sacred cow. But today, many Swedes, like others around the world, are having second thoughts. Three events incited these doubts.

The first was the slaughter in Rwanda a decade ago of more than 800,000 people within 100 days – probably the fastest genocide ever. The well-documented fact is that Kofi Annan, then the UN’s Deputy Secretary General, ordered UN soldiers in Rwanda not to intervene or protect the victims. That Annan, after this enormous failure, was promoted to Secretary General of the UN remains a puzzle.

Doubts about the UN, and Annan personally, were compounded by the ongoing scandal within the UN administration concerning the Oil for Food program. Although reports have so far not implicated Annan directly, his management failures are abundantly clear.

The third – and perhaps the most disillusioning – scandal concerns the Commission on Human Rights, for it lays bare much about the structural and permanent lack of balance and morality within key UN agencies. Most people assume that this Commission exists to promote human rights and democratic freedoms. Yet some of the worst human rights violators are Commission members. These enemies of freedom are permanently silent about torture, oppression, and mass murder carried out by their fellow dictatorships, but are quick to rant against the world’s democracies, in particular the United States.

The recent “High Level Panel” report on the future of the UN was right when it said: “We are concerned that in recent years States have sought membership of the Commission not to strengthen human rights but to protect themselves from criticism or to criticize others.” So, finally, the truth is emerging. After more than a third of a century at the UN, even Annan has come close to admitting that the Commission on Human Rights is a source of shame.

Is it reasonable to elect a pyromaniac to the board of a fire department? Of course not. So why is it that tyrannies like Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe are members of this Commission? Recent members also include Libya, Vietnam, Congo, and Syria – the Libyans were even elected chair-country. How can this be?

About half of today’s UN members are democracies, the other half non-democracies. ... Ongoing democratization in regions that have known only dictatorship provides hope that the balance is tilting in a way that would enable it possible for at least one UN body should incarnate freedom...

Those who have attained power through violence and fraud are not legitimate and should never more shame the UN by being members of this Commission. Unfortunately, most democracies are often unwilling to fight against the perversion of the UN Human Rights Commission. The European Union represents 25 democracies and often inspires countries to seek their freedom, as it has in Ukraine and Lebanon. But the EU’s habit is not to defeat the UN’s extremists, but to make strange compromises with them. As a result, rogue states make a few concessions to get the Europeans and others on board and then claim moral parity with the democracies. Free peoples everywhere should remember that totalitarian forces and ideas cannot be defeated by being nice and accommodating. The Commission on Human Rights must rid itself of members that detest freedom. Otherwise, the sole UN agency that concentrates on freedom will be nothing more than a handmaiden to tyranny.


(Emphasis added.)

Encouraging to see such sentiment from fully-paid up, social welfare to the max, EU member, gung ho multilateralist Sweden.

Kofi Annan dismissed those who are upset that the UN abetted the embezzlement of, what is it now, US$60 billion from the Oil-for-Food programme as right wingers who want to dismantle the UN. (Logical fallacy, that. Shouldn't left wingers who want to strengthen the UN also be upset that high-ranking UN bureaucrats were working hand-in-fist with Saddam Hussein to take billions away from hungry, needy Iraqis?)

Perhaps Mr. Annan will pay this broadside a bit more attention, since his wife, Nane, is from Sweden.

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Quote for the day

A state that mistreats its own people cannot be trusted to live in peace with its neighbors.

- Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989)
Soviet physicist, dissident and human rights campaigner

Monday, April 18, 2005

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MMB looking for Mr Kofi's refill

Der Spiegel interviews Mark Malloch Brown, Kofi Annan's new amanuensis. Points of note:

"A Tremendous Blow to the UN"

Kofi Annan's chief of staff, Mark Malloch Brown, 51, discusses the crisis at the United Nations, his hopes that Kofi Annan's successor will be a woman and Germany's prospects for a permanent seat on the Security Council.

SPIEGEL: To what extent have the UN and its secretary general been weakened in the wake of the corruption scandal surrounding the "Oil for Food" program in Iraq, in which Kofi Annan's son, Kojo, has become embroiled?

Malloch Brown: It's clear that these serious accusations have been a tremendous blow to the UN and have raised questions about its effectiveness, but also about Kofi Annan's integrity. Happily, however, the investigative commission has failed to uncover any wrongdoing in this regard. (Lack of evidence does not equal exoneration. - ed.)

SPIEGEL: Nonetheless, there has been talk about inadequate supervision, incompetence and possible conflicts of interest. Isn't that a second-class acquittal?

Malloch Brown: No, the investigators truly left no stone unturned, and the UN spend many millions (of the Iraqi people's money. - ed.) on the investigation. It was a tough time for Kofi Annan. But it ultimately produced nothing for which he could be held accountable. (Perhaps the proof was shredded by Mr. Malloch Brown's predecessor, Mr. Iqbal Riza? - ed.) However, the commission's conclusion that there are organizational weaknesses within the UN has once again highlighted the need for reform, including internal reform within the organization itself.

SPIEGEL: A strong secretary general and strong allies are needed for reform. In nominating John Bolton as its ambassador to the UN, the powerful United States has chosen someone who has never made a secret of his disdain for the organization. (Dear Spiegel: That was not a question. - ed.)

Malloch Brown: He was certainly not our first choice as a candidate for this position. But sometimes the UN does need an ambassador who can get things done in Washington. Perhaps Bolton can play this role. After all, he's someone who has the trust of right-wingers in Washington. Incidentally, he has stated, in his testimony before the US Senate, that he now accepts multilateral cooperation. That in itself is already a big step forward.

...

SPIEGEL: Berlin is also trying to use the option of such a review clause to appease critical European Union partners, who would like to see a European seat on the Security Council. Is there any chance of that happening?

Malloch Brown: It's a proposal that's not up for debate at this point. However, a review clause could make this idea an option in the future. But Germany will first have to consistently demonstrate its own claim to leadership.

SPIEGEL: What does that mean?

Malloch Brown: A reformed Security Council will not reflect military might as much as economic strength. In that case Germany, as a major economic power, will also assume a leading role and, for example, will financially increase its financial contribution to development aid to the internationally agreed-upon level of 0.7 percent of GNP. This is absolutely critical. (Translation: Cough up the pay-off and you are in like Flint. 'Demonstrate leadership' means give the UN and our NGO hangers-on more money! Haven't the Germans enjoyed that experience with the EU? - ed.)

...

SPIEGEL: What kinds of attributes should a candidate to replace Kofi Annan in 2006 have?

Malloch Brown: In my view, there are strong reasons to support an Asian candidate. After all, Asia makes up half of the world, and in the past the UN has at times leaned heavily toward the Atlantic region and Africa. It's also about time that the position be filled by a woman. That would be truly spectacular, because it would symbolize, in the highest-ranking office at the United Nations, the social and cultural shift in values in a changing world, just as Kofi Annan and Nelson Mandela once symbolized a new generation of African leader.

INTERVIEW: RALF BESTE, MANFRED ERTEL

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan


(Comments added by me.)

It sounds to me as if Mr. Malloch Brown has someone in mind even now. I bet it is a Japanese woman like Sadako Ogata, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees (yes, the Rude Lover's old post). With a Japanese woman as Secretary General, Japan might be mollified enough to halt its burgeoning campaign for a permanent Security Council seat.

And someone like Ms. Ogata, with her long UN career, could be trusted to stay onside - the UN side being the side of the elite class whose deserve, nay, are destined to rule the planet.

Who cares if the next Secretary General is a woman or not? I don't care whether she is packing X-chromosomes or Y's, as long as she isn't cut from the same transnational progressive, socialist, anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-capitalism, anti-success, pro-tyranny, pro-corruption cloth as Boutros2 Ghali and Mr. Kofi.

Otherwise, the fact of a woman as Secretary General won't make a vas deferens.