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

Monday, May 02, 2005


Self-righteous failure speaks out

Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States (a job at which he set a new standard for complete and utter failure), writes about the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty review in today's IHT.

Of course, he cannot let four paragraphs go by without inserting a huge howler:

Until recently, all American presidents since Dwight Eisenhower had striven to restrict and reduce nuclear arsenals - some more than others. As far as I know, there are no present efforts by any of the nuclear powers to accomplish these crucial goals.
The United States is the major culprit in this erosion of the NPT.

Jimmy Carter is an vain, sanctimonious prig, but he is no ignorant redneck.

How then can he ignore the existence of the 2002 Treaty of Moscow? That treaty between Russia and the United States committed each country to deactivating over two-thirds of its nuclear warheads. Both countries have committed to drawing down their arsenals by this staggering amount by 2012. "No present effort to reduce nuclear arsenals'?!?!?

Mr. Carter ignores the existence of this fine achievement because it is inconvenient.

He continues with a very misleading statement:
(America's leaders) also have abandoned past pledges and now threaten first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.

Mr. Carter fails to mention that this threat was merely a clarification of existing policy. In reality, it was a declaration that the US reserved the right to use nuclear weapons to respond to a chemical or biological weapons attack.

Doesn't sound quite so unreasonable and warmongering now, does it? There is a reason why these cruel, indiscriminate weapons are called the 'poor man's nuclear bomb.'

Mr. Carter ignores the actual content of this 'threat' because it is inconvenient.

Go back to Plains and cease your meddling, you vain, sanctimonious, malign little man.


Kofi's patented 180 spin move

The New York Times reports that Kofi Annan has decided not to discipline his shredder-in-chief, Iqbal Riza.

Secretary General Kofi Annan said Thursday that he had decided there were no grounds for disciplining his former chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, who was criticized by the independent committee investigating the oil-for-food program for ordering the shredding of three years of files...

The Volcker committee had faulted Mr. Riza because the shredded documents covered a period, 1997-9, that coincided with the early years of the program and because the shredding was conducted after a June 1, 2004, directive from Mr. Annan telling staff members to preserve documents related to the program.

(Emphasis added. Hat tip: UNSCAM)

That may not be the end of the story.

On at least two prior occasions, Kofi has cleared UN personnel of serious wrongdoing, then once public interest has been aroused, to turn around and find the offenders guilty.

1) The Case of the Purple Helmeted Warriors for Peace
As documented here, in 2002 the UN cleared of sexual wrongdoing its UN peacekeepers in Africa, before admitting in 2004 that, yes, a few bad apples did some bad things. Incontrovertible evidence emerged bit by bit, in the form of hundreds of 'UN babies' and homemade porn videos starring UN workers and Congolese children. Finally, to its undying shame, in 2005 the UN had to spill the whole story of rampant sexual abuse in every UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.

2) The Case of the Rude Lover
The cycle repeated itself in The Case of the Rude Lover. In 2004, Ruud Lubbers, the head of the UN High Commission for Refugees was accused of sexual harassment. UN investigators checked out the allegations and supported the allegations. Kofi Annan took it upon himself to reverse their findings and announce that the Rude Lover was 'cleared' of any wrongdoing. However, word leaked that '(t)he UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (had) investigated the complaint and backed the woman's complaint,' and requested that 'appropriate action' be taken against the Rude Lover. Why Kofi then decided to clear his pal, the Rude Lover, was never satisfactorily explained. Public pressure mounted, and of course, Kofi pushed the Rude Lubber overboard in February 2005.

And just to demonstrate how ruthless he is once he concludes that his position is in jeopardy, Kofi is now trying to pin the blame for all of the UN's woes on his 31-year-old diplobrat son Kojo.

Perhaps there are no grounds at present for disciplining his former chief of staff, but just wait and see. If public pressure mounts, watch Kofi discover some grounds most speedily, and to toss Mr Riza overboard, without apology.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Bad economy gives Germans bad ideas (redux)

Even brain-damaged old-timey Newsweek has noted Germany's recent rediscovery of its deep anti-capitalistic impulses.

An article entitled 'Capitalism? Nein!' lays it out, as this blog has done many times previously.

Capitalism? Nein!
Schröder and his Social Democrats rediscover Karl Marx. Alas, it's more than election opportunism.

May 9 issue - Listen to some of Germany's most powerful politicians these days, and it's as if Karl Marx had risen from the grave. "The growing power of international capital" with its "unbridled greed for profit" represents nothing less than a 'threat to democracy'," the chairman of the ruling Social Democrats, Franz Muntefering, railed at a recent party conclave in Berlin.

Days later Chancellor Gerhard Schröder himself thundered against the evils of an "unrestrained neo-liberal system."

Other SPD leaders have warned of "predator capitalists" waging an "undeclared war" on Germany.

The "asocial" and "faceless" foreign investors were descending on Germany "like swarms of locusts," Muntefering warned darkly.

...Schröder's welfare cutbacks and tax breaks for business, which have so far failed to put a dent into Germany's 12 percent jobless rate. Indeed, just last week the economic clouds darkened again, as the government's Council of Economic Advisers cut back its 2005 growth forecast from 1.5 to just 0.7 percent—the lowest in Europe. With reforms not producing quick results, SPD strategists now hope to shift the blame to business for not creating sufficient jobs...

Nor are Germans alone in blaming their capitalists. In Paris last week, French President Jacques Chirac stood shoulder to shoulder with Schröder in calling for Europe to take swift steps to restrict soaring Chinese textile imports and lashing out against free-market "neoliberalists" in Brussels for failing to protect French jobs...

...'(A) solid majority of (Germans) agree with Muntefering that capitalism is inherently evil and that the pursuit of profit "threatens German democracy," according to a fresh poll by ZDF Television.

More than anything, what the German media have dubbed "the locust debate" is setting the stage for Schröder's battle for re-election in 2006. Just as he overcame all but certain defeat in 2002 by appealing to Germans' deep antiwar (and, some say, anti-American) convictions, Schröder this time may be tempted to tap into the majority of Germans' deep-seated aversion to capitalism...

...Trouble is, the debate's momentum threatens to take it far beyond election tactics. (!!!) By raising expectations that Germany can "stop" capitalism and globalization, warns Wahl, it will be even harder to get Europe's biggest economy back on a course toward growth and jobs...

As I have pointed out on a number of occasions, Germans rank Karl Marx as #3 in the 'Greatest German of All Time' list. (He even took the top spot in the former DDR.)*

I suppose that I can only be glad that another German with facial hair and strange political and economic ideas did not win outright. Ach! The BBC reports that he was excluded from the polls.

Ohne Fleiss kein Preis.

* #1 was Konrad Adenauer and #2 was Martin Luther.


Further evidence of French complicity in Rwandan genocide

Well, knock me over with a feather!

From the AP, comes a report of more evidence of French complicity in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
A former French soldier said Friday that he saw French troops training Rwandan militias in 1992, two years before those same civilian militias took a leading role in a genocide in the tiny central African country.

Rwandan officials, including President Paul Kagame, have long accused France of training the militias that helped carry out the 1994 slaughter of about 500,000 people, most of them from the country's Tutsi minority. The genocide was orchestrated by a government of extremists from Rwanda's Hutu majority.

The French government, which had close ties with the extremist government, has denied training Rwandan civilians, and the Defense Ministry refused to comment Friday on the allegations made by Thierry Prungnaud, a former noncommissioned officer in the French Army.

"In 1992, I saw French military members training Rwandan civilian militias to shoot a gun," Prungnaud told France Culture radio. He said he had been sent to Rwanda that year to train the presidential guard.

"I am categorical. I saw it."

The training session took place in a national park closed to the public, according to Prungnaud. He said he was not surprised by what he saw, since he was unaware of the consequences. "To me, it seemed normal," he said.

"The only time that I saw them, there were about 30 militants being taught how to shoot in Akagera park," in eastern Rwanda, an area he said at the time was closed to the public and booby-trapped to keep unwanted visitors away.

Prungnaud said he was able to identify the men as civilians because members of the Rwandan military are always in uniform. He identified the trainers as members of the French Navy's 1st Parachute Regiment.

Although he stayed in Rwanda only for a brief period, he said, "I assume that the training continued."

In February, six Rwandans brought charges of "complicity in a genocide" against the French military at the Army Tribunal in Paris.

In a speech last year commemorating the 10th anniversary of the genocide, Kagame, a Tutsi, accused France of complicity in the genocide, saying the French "consciously trained and armed" Rwandan soldiers and militias and "knew they were going to perpetrate a genocide." The French Foreign Ministry called the accusations "grave and contrary to the truth."

Kagame led the Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels who overthrew the Hutu extremist regime and ended the genocide.

(Emphasis added.)

Most estimates are that over 800,000 Rwandans were killed by their countrymen in the space of 100 days, not 500,000 as the article states.

There is no disputing, however, that French troops were in the country and French troops were training Rwandan military forces and that those military forces did indeed kill thousands of their compatriots. From the BBC:

When the Tutsi-dominated rebel army, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), first launched its war against the Hutu authorities in the early 1990s, France sent soldiers to Kigali.

The French helped stop the RPF advance and then stayed on, officially as military advisors right up to the start of the genocide.

The BBC's world affairs correspondent Mark Doyle says it is no secret that the French had officers attached to train and arm Rwandan military units which subsequently committed genocide.

France vehemently denies any direct involvement in the mass killings.

(Emphasis added.)

Allegations of the French government supporting genocidal dictatorial lunatics?

Les bras m'en tombent!


Free speech in the new EU

Forbes has an eye-opener on one of the non-publicised aspects of the proposed EU Constitution.

Apparently, one of the rights it bestows upon its subjects is not a right but a prohibition. It follows the tried-and-true path of the postmodern left: if there is an area that the elites do not wish to debate, then declare political discussion off-limits, or better yet, illegal.

Dan Seligman writes:

It sounds incredible, or possibly not, but among the greatest threats to free speech in Europe is a document called the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The charter, proclaimed at an EU summit in 2000 and now incorporated into the provisional EU Constitution, comprises a blizzard of rights: rights for children, for women (they have a right to preference in areas wherein they are underrepresented), for asylum-seekers, for workers and employers (both are said to have a right to collective bargaining), for murderers (they have a right not to suffer capital punishment) and for the disabled. There is a right to marry, a right to privacy, a right to a good education and a lot more--including a right to freedom of expression. These rights are enumerated in 53 articles. But the final article is not a right.

Headed "Prohibition of abuse of rights," it states:
Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as implying any right to engage in any activity … aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognized in this Charter or at their limitation.

This seems highly problematic. If someone were to mount a campaign favoring the death penalty, or opposing collective bargaining, or opposing preferences for women, or limiting the options of asylum-seekers, this would plainly constitute an effort to destroy rights recognized in the Charter--an activity characterized as an "abuse of rights" and therefore prohibited.

The Bruges Group, a think tank in London, has published an essay arguing this case. The essay was written by Brian Hindley, a British economist, and was endorsed (in a prefatory note) by Oliver Letwin, who is now Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Tory "shadow cabinet."

The threat posed by the final article has thus far received little publicity, and it seems safe to say that very few Brits are aware of an EU threat to freedom of speech on their island. It also appears that very few members of the EU bureaucracy are aware of Hindley's argument. It was certainly news to the bureaucrat I discussed it with--a European Commission spokesman on cultural issues--who immediately pronounced it nonsense.

But who never properly accounted for the plain wording of the Charter, or his continent's ragged record on free speech.

(Emphasis added.)

By way of example: large majorities right across Europe still favour capital punishment, which you would never know from reading the papers and listening to the EUrocrats. (Follow the link for a very interesting analysis.)

This Constitutional monstrosity (my annotated edition is 22o pages) will forbid European citizens from ever discussing the reintroduction of the death penalty for select crimes. That tiny little article, Article II-114, which declares so many areas of politics off limits for debate, shows up in the middle of page 60, seeking to escape notice in the welter of bureaucratic jargon.

Some hope still springs forth. The French, long trailblazers in the march to a unified Europa, look likely to reject the proposed EU Constitution in a referendum (for completely different reasons, of course).

Do we dare hope?

Will the French rescue Europe?

(sigh) It has never happened before.


Blue Helmets and Purple Helmets, v. 7

Heretofore, our Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning blue-helmeted UN peacekeepers have suffered no punishment when they have, for example, gang-raped 12-year-old girls, organised prostitution and human trafficking rings, used food to entice starving children into sex and the like.

The UN's attitude has typically been, 'Boys will be boys.' (That disgusting phrase was actually uttered by the UN Undersecretary General in Cambodia when confronted with evidence of similar exploits there by UN peacekeepers.)

You see, the UN wishes to avoid punishing pedophiles and chickenhawks and serial rapists, because 'creating a taboo' will make it harder for the UN to attract peacekeeping contributions in the future! Logic tells me that the UN must be seeking to attract pedophiles and chickenhawks and serial rapists...

They are getting tougher now, though. If, for example, a Moroccan soldier is caught, say, paying a 15-year-old Congolese girl with a jar of mayonnaise, to bump uglies without the benefit of protection, the UN may withhold his pay packet.

And now we have confirmed reports of more sexual abuse, rape and pedophilia by UN peacekeepers in Liberia. The fact that even the UN admits that such is the case in every UN peacekeeping operation is what would be known in mental health circles as 'a pattern of abuse.'

And the UN feels that these criminal abusers deserve no punishment, or at most, the forfeiture of a portion of salary.

Let us reflect now, on the words of Jacques Klein, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Liberia. He spoke movingly to the UN Security Council in September 2003, pleading with UNSC members to approve the despatch of UN peacekeeping forces to Liberia:

Mr Klein said that one of the primary tasks of the new peacekeeping force would be to bring justice to the people of Liberia.

"Without justice there can be no healing. Without justice those who believe that they can act with impunity will be tempted to do so again," he said.

"Without justice Liberia cannot bring this dark past to closure and look to a brighter future... Ultimately, if you do not punish the guilty, you cannot absolve the innocent," Mr Klein said.


Blue Helmets and Purple Helmets, v. 6

Another installment in our occasional series documenting the exploits of our Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning UN peacekeepers

Last year, the BBC profiled Bangladesh's contributions to the Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning UN peacekeeping forces.

If the BBC knew then what we all know now, they may have chosen a less unintentionally hilarious headline:

The cream of UN peacekeepers


Blue Helmets and Purple Helmets, v. 5

Another installment in our occasional series documenting the exploits of our Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning UN peacekeepers

  • BH & PH, v. 1: here
  • BH & PH, v. 2: here
  • BH & PH, v. 3: here
  • BH & PH, v. 4: here

The UN 'fesses up to serial rape, prostitution and pedophilia (No, this is not a rerun. It is in another location than the Congo, this time).

From the Jerusalem Post:
UN peacekeepers sexually abused and exploited local women and girls in Liberia and more accusations are expected, a UN spokesman said Friday.

A UN spokesman "said"? You mean admitted. Better yet, confessed.

This episode is not the well-documented cases in Kosovo or Congo. This orgy took place in Liberia, one of those operations that Kofi Annan used to boast about sanctimoniously as being a great success for humanitarian intervention.

Stephane Dujarric said a preliminary investigation by the UN mission in Liberia indicated that some allegations against its personnel could be substantiated, while others could not.

As we pointed out on 21 Apr, the Economist reported that there are plenty of 'facts on the ground,' in the form of hundreds of 'UN babies.'

...The allegations of sex abuse in Liberia are just the latest to be leveled against UN peacekeepers who have been accused of exploiting the very people they were sent to protect in missions from Bosnia and Kosovo to Cambodia, East Timor and Congo.

Dujarric said the number of allegations against UN peacekeepers around the world would likely increase.

"The United Nations treats this issue with the utmost seriousness and as we continue to clamp down on misconduct throughout all peacekeeping missions it is very likely that the number of these allegations will increase," he said.

Last month a UN report by Prince Zeid Al Hussein, Jordan's UN ambassador on peacekeeper sex abuse, said the UN's military arm was deeply flawed and recommended withholding salaries of the guilty and proposed requiring nations to pursue legal action against perpetrators.

That's right! Gang-rape a 12-year-old and you (and your mates) may lose two weeks' pay!

Why, that is even more severe than a letter of disappointment in your personnel file!

Currently, UN troops and employees accused of wrongdoing are sent home, and are confronted by their own government but are often never punished.

Nah, instead they get medals for their brave work, subduing resistant pre-pubescent Congolese girls and boys.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan commissioned the report after more than 150 allegations of sexual exploitation of girls as young as 13 by UN peacekeepers in Congo surfaced.

Allegations that, as the AP fails to mention, have also been substantiated, by both outside investigators and the UN itself.

Wherever our dauntless Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning blue-helmeted warriors for peace go, you are sure to find plenty of:
  • UN bureaucrats (who pay no taxes) in five-star hotels (on expense account!)
  • HIV-infected women (And men. And girls. And boys.),
  • rape victims,
  • abandoned babies, and
  • homemade porn videos.

What you will not find in abundance are things such as:
  • used condoms ('Blue helmets ride bareback!')
  • support programmes for rape victims / crisis pregnancies / STDs / etc.,
  • arrest warrants,
  • shame, or
  • the truth.


Gold star for the Telegraph

The Telegraph of London gets kudos for predicting the turn of events. On 29 March, Alec Russell reported:
Annan 'will sacrifice son to save himself'

Kofi Annan, the beleaguered United Nations secretary general, is expected to sacrifice his son's reputation today as he fights to save his own position after a damaging report into a family conflict of interest.

Saints aren't supposed to sacrifice other people to save their careers, are they?


Anton Chekhov interviews Kofi Annan, finds family woe

New York Magazine this week has a profile cum interview with Kofi Atta Annan.

Surprisingly, the cause of Kofi's distress is not President Dubya, or the neo-cons, or the religious right, or the Jews, or the Freemasons, or international financiers, or whomever.

The culprit is his son, Kojo.

The article is unintentionally hilarious at times, and Chekhovian in its spin.

The article's title is 'No Peace for Kofi' but the browser strapline is 'Kofi and Kojo Annan - The Wayward Son May Ruin What's Left of the UN Secretary General's Reputation' (snicker)

Kofi Annan is sitting in his private dining room on the 38th floor of the United Nations Building, sipping a glass of red wine at lunch. He sounds hurt and angry as he talks about the “lynch mob” out to “destroy” him.

Oh sure, you are the top office of an organisation found to be engaged in repeated episodes of nepotism, embezzlement, cover-ups, sexual harassment, prostitution, gang rape, and abetting mass murder and genocide.

Even some of your own close friends and immediate family are implicated.

Some of the people providing the capital for your organisation feel that you aren't doing what you were hired to do.

If they want to see you resign for malfeasance and/or incompetence, they are trying to 'lynch' and 'destroy' you.

(Kofi has) discussed quitting with close friends and his wife, Nane. “I’ve thought about it,” he says. “Resignation is the easy path. Nane and I could have a wonderful life, travel, sit on the farm I dream about.” A weary smile plays on his face. “No one is indispensable.”

Kofi Annan reminds me of former US President Jimmy Carter - completely ineffectual, addicted to the taste of tyrants' backsides, and drenched in self-righteous indignation.

Kojo had called Annan during the weekend. Annan had learned in November that his son had misled him about his unsavory financial dealings. “He has apologized,” Annan says. “He is extremely embarrassed.” Yet their discussions continue to be a tug-of-war: “I’ve talked to him about coming clean with everything he knows, no surprises,” Annan says. But Kojo, who has refused to meet with investigators since October or to turn over additional documents, held firm.

Hmmm... I wonder why Kojo now refuses to meet with investigators? I wonder why he will not provide additional documentation?

Especially as Kojo repeatedly claims to have done nothing wrong.

...Annan sounds baffled as he tries to grasp the magnitude of his son’s deceit. “I have no theories. You know, it’s incredible when you see these little children. You carry them in your arms and lead them along the way. And over time, they develop their own personalities and become their own person.” He stops, then adds quietly, “Of course, he maintains he did nothing wrong.”

Even now? I ask.

“Yes, now.”

You know you have a hard road ahead of you when even New York Magazine is gobsmacked by such protestations of innocence.

If even the bluest magazine in the bluest of blue states can't play along, you are in trouble.

...Annan was vibrating with tension on the first day I met with him at his office, on a Friday morning in early February, to discuss whether he would cooperate with this story. It was admittedly a difficult day: He was in the process of ousting Ruud Lubbers, the head of the U.N. Human Rights Commission accused of sexually harassing staffers (more on that below), and Lubbers was scheduled to arrive within the hour. But for a man renowned for his personal charm and ability to remain calm under pressure, Annan came across as wary and abrupt. I had scarcely made my pitch when a secretary handed Annan a note to say that John Negroponte, the former American ambassador to the U.N. and new U.S. intelligence czar, was on his way down the hall; Annan hustled me out.

And there is a revealing anecdote about Kofi's response to Operation Iraqi Freedom:
When the Iraq war began in March 2003, Annan had a striking personal reaction: He lost his voice. Doctors performed tests, found nothing wrong, and diagnosed stress. “It was completely psychosomatic,” says a staffer. Annan was ordered to limit his speaking and had to cancel appointments for weeks. In the two years since, he’s been vulnerable to similar attacks. Sometimes he whispers his way through meetings; his bodyguards keep Halls cough drops at the ready.

So that is why the International Condescension Monitor registered an all-time low during that period.

The first time Annan realized he might have a personal problem with the oil-for-food program came as far back as January 24, 1999, when the London Sunday Telegraph ran a story with the headline FURY AT ANNAN SON’S LINK TO £6M U.N. DEAL. The story questioned whether nepotism played a role in helping Cotecna, a Swiss company that employed Kojo Annan, to win a lucrative U.N. contract to inspect oil-for-food shipments... Annan immediately asked that the charge be investigated, but the in-house inquiry he ordered ended after one day, after concluding that Cotecna won because it was the low bidder. Kojo insisted he had done nothing wrong, and told his father that he had severed his relationship with Cotecna on December 31, 1998 (according to the Volcker report, Kojo actually stayed on the payroll through February 2004).

The Wall Street Journal’s news section published a major investigation of the oil-for-food program on May 2, 2002, charging that Saddam had siphoned money from the program for his war chest and that U.N. auditors were lax...

It wasn’t until April 2004 that Annan named an independent commission, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, to investigate oil-for-food, with a freewheeling mandate to look at the questionable behavior of U.N. officials monitoring the program, examine whether Security Council members were aware of the corruption, and take a hard look at his own and Kojo’s roles.

January 1999 to April 2004? That is over five years that Kofi tried to keep the lid on.

The secretary-general was so convinced that he had nothing to hide that he didn’t initially hire a personal attorney—he met with investigators twice without legal advice before friends intervened.

(wailing) Oh, he's a saint! The man is a saint!

(Soon to be a martyred saint.)

Give me a break. He simply felt above the law - understandably so, since he has full diplomatic immunity.

And the Rude Lover makes an appearance in the story too, of course being used as a prop in another vignette of how noble and loyal Saint Kofi is:

Ruud Lubbers, the U.N.’s high commissioner for Refugees, was accused of groping several women in December 2003, and investigators found the complaints valid. But Annan consulted outside lawyers who concluded that the U.N.’s internal investigation wouldn’t hold up in court. He officially cleared Lubbers in July, a decision that sent shock waves through the organization, essentially conveying the message that Annan, the renowned human-rights champion, was a member of the old-boys’ club.

“Kofi didn’t go back to the investigators and say, ‘Get more goods, you haven’t made your case,’ ” says one high-ranking staffer. An Annan pal says bluntly, “He should have just fired the guy.” Only this winter, when newspapers printed the affidavits describing Lubbers’s boorish behavior, did Annan force Lubbers out.

Saint Kofi, he is too noble to even save himself. We must help him!

The dark atmosphere at the U.N. grew darker after Bush’s reelection, as congressional committees investigating the oil-for-food scandal began to churn up information about Saddam’s looting. “There were weeks when Kofi seemed disturbed, bothered, unfocused,” says a prominent diplomat and Annan backer. Annan became increasingly worried and withdrawn. Staffers and diplomats grumbled that it took forever for him to make decisions.

In December, in the diplomatic equivalent of a substance-abuse intervention, Annan sat through two separate confrontational meetings (the first with top staffers at the home of Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette and the second with friends and informal advisers at Holbrooke’s Central Park West apartment) as people told him in excruciating detail all the ways in which he was screwing up. Annan was urged to make amends with Washington, clean house, and be more forceful in his leadership.

The Volcker Report fingered (by flagrant omission) this same Ms Frechette. Details here. See, she prevented the UN's own audit of flagrant embezzlement and corruption in the Oil-for-Food programme from being seen by the Security Council. So there was a cover-up, and then a cover-up of the cover-up.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. - Sir Walter Scott

Another personal note on how Kofi found out that Kojo had been pulling the wool over his eyes is here:

At the same time, the secretary-general’s heartbreak over Kojo was intensifying. Annan got a call from Fred Eckhard, telling him that, according to news reports, Kojo had deceived him; the Cotecna checks had kept coming for years. “It hit him like a rock,” said an aide who was with Annan when he got the news. Senator Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican, promptly demanded Annan’s resignation. “I was taken aback and puzzled,” Annan says, in a soft voice. He called Kojo, and a series of angry father-son conversations ensued. The Volcker report subsequently revealed that, according to Kojo’s financial records, Kojo conspired to hide the payments by disguising them as money wired to him from three separate companies and other sources, a sum estimated to be about $400,000.

And there is news on Kofi's top assistant, the shredder-in-chief:

Annan received more bad news in December. The Volcker commission was also quizzing his chief of staff, Iqbal Riza, about shredding documents. Riza insisted to Annan and the commission that the documents were duplicates—that he’d agreed to the shredding after secretaries complained their files were full. The news of the shredding wouldn’t become public until the Volcker report came out in March, but Annan knew that the revelation would be damaging. Did he worry that everyone would think “cover-up”? “Exactly,” he says. “Cover-up, and remember the eight minutes in the Nixon tapes.” Annan decided to purge his staff in late December, sending Riza, 70, into retirement, getting rid of many of his closest advisers, and bringing in Mark Malloch Brown, the forceful and witty British head of the U.N. Development Program and a former political spinmeister, as his new chief of staff.

Ummm, if Kofi is a saint, why did he try to deflect the blame by purging his staff? That is not what saints are supposed to do.

Oh, I get it. He is a saint who doesn't also want to be a martyr.

But, oh, how Saint Kofi has suffered. How much has he suffered?

You want suffering? How about no more dinner parties.

What kind of monster could wish such utter pain and anguish on a tireless humanitarian?

This winter, Annan and Nane stopped hosting what were once regular parties at their home, and have turned down virtually all the invitations they receive. “I’m not in the mood for socializing,” he says.

(Perhaps this strikes New York Magazine writers as exceedingly traumatic.)

Then the article goes on to speculate that Kojo started trading on the Annan name in order to get back at his father for his divorce from Kojo's mother. (No, I am not kidding. It is actually in the article. Sheesh.)

Perhaps an alternate explanation may be, oh, I don't know, US$400,000!?!

Annan, an indulgent father and by nature nonconfrontational, remains baffled about Kojo’s motives. “I’ve always lived quite a straight life,” he says. “I’m not one of those who is in a hurry to get rich. It’s not my way of life or desire.”


However, it would be rude to point out, that such virtuous thinking does not seem to have been shared by Kofi's son, or Kofi's predecessor Boutros2 Ghali, or Kofi's Oil-for-Food manager Benon Sevan, or kofi's Security Council liaison Joseph Stephanides, or (the list goes on)... all of whom snaffled up major coin from the Oil-for-Food trough.

Then the author goes to Kofi's rent-free 'official residence, a sprawling brick mansion on Sutton Place' and speaks with Kofi's wife, Nane.

After describing the stress and strain on Saint Kofi and the friction with corrupt Kojo, the author (no, I am not kidding) points out that '(h)er blonde hair is pulled back in a bun, emphasizing the worry lines around her eyes...'

Oh, to be a saint's wife, it is also a trial.


Mention Kojo, and she flinches, breaking eye contact to stare at the coffee table. The conversation stops—so I ask what Kofi has been like as a parent. “I think he’s been a caring father,” she says, cautiously. “Of course, this is very painful to him as a father and a secretary-general. It’s difficult, it’s difficult,” she says. “This is so unfortunate.”

The prodigal son is tarnishing Saint Kofi's good works! Woe! Woe to us!

But wait! It is always darkest just before the dawn. An angel appears to offer sustenance to an anguished soul!

As I was typing away on this story, several days after the Volcker report came out, the phone rang. There was a familiar voice on the other end....

The secretary-general began by attempting to spin his situation, emphasizing all the calls of support coming in. Earlier in the week, he had spoken, with evident pain, about the friends who had seemingly vanished: “Some feel embarrassed to call,” he allowed. “They don’t know what to say.” Now he wanted to tell me that, among others, a sympathetic Bill Clinton had phoned. “He understands. He had gone through similar situations where he’s been under a microscope, attacked,” said Annan. Then he added, with a sense of surprise, that the former president had confided in him. “He was sort of reminiscing with me, sharing his own experiences with his brother, his brother-in-law, things like that.” Did Clinton offer advice? “That you have to remain focused and carry on.”

Well, what will Saint Kofi do? Will he resign?

Despite his “Hell, no” earlier in the week, I asked whether resigning has seemed increasingly appealing. “You think it through. What would be the best for me to do, to stay, to leave? Resignation would be easy, but to stay on and confront, pick up the lessons, push for the reforms you believe in, and work with the member states to get it done is much, much harder. Having balanced the arguments, I have an obligation to finish what I started.

That is right, Kofi will not stay on the job as Secretary-General of the United Nations for his fat tax-free compensation package, or the 'sprawling brick mansion on Sutton Place,' or the praise and attention and notoriety of the office, where he was always invited to the poshest dinner parties, and joked with Robert De Niro and chatted about family affairs with Bill Clinton.

No, he is going to stay on the job, for the cause of reform, for the good of the United Nations organisation, for the good of humanity.

For us.