- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

NEW YORK — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called yesterday for the United States to respect international norms, pointedly contrasting Bush administration policies in Iraq with the values that made America great.

In one of his last major speeches before leaving office, Mr. Annan also warned that military measures and other steps in the war on terrorism were leaving U.S. allies “troubled and confused.”

In what was widely interpreted as a criticism of the Bush administration’s policies, Mr. Annan said that success on the world stage is possible “only … if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism.”

Mr. Annan said after his speech at the Harry Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Mo., that he was not meaning to criticize the Bush administration, but simply to encourage it to do the things that have earned the nation respect in the past.

But the suggestion that the country has strayed from its own values was unmistakable.

“When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused. And states need to play by the rules towards each other, as well as towards their own citizens,” he said in his speech.

“No state can make its own actions legitimate in the eyes of others. When power, especially military force, is used, the world will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose — for broadly shared aims — in accordance with broadly accepted norms.”

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack downplayed the criticism, saying it was normal for a U.N. chief to disagree with Washington on some issues.

“There’s no secretary-general of the United Nations that’s going to be in lock step with the United States or any other country with regard to its policies. It’s not that person’s job,” he said.

But retiring Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican and chairman of the House International Relations Committee, suggested Mr. Annan was simply trying to divert attention from the United Nations’ own management failures.

Mr. Annan’s “failure to accept any responsibility for a decade of U.N. scandals” is “both understandable and completely predictable,” said Mr. Hyde, whose committee extensively investigated the scandal-plagued U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq.

U.N. officials began touting the speech to reporters last week, aware of its potential impact in Washington.

Mr. Annan’s deputy, Mark Malloch Brown, incurred harsh criticism when he suggested earlier this year that the U.S. government was not doing enough to defend the organization against its critics.

In his speech yesterday, Mr. Annan urged the United States to apply its own founding principles in its international dealings.

“The U.S. has given the world an example of a democracy in which everyone, including the most powerful, is subject to legal restraint,” he said. “Its current moment of world supremacy gives it a priceless opportunity to entrench the same principles at the global level.”

He also cautioned the Bush administration to consider the global impact of their actions.

“Today the actions of one state can often have a decisive effect on the lives of people in other states,” Mr. Annan said. “So does it not owe some account to those other states and their citizens, as well as to its own? I believe it does.”

He added: “As things stand, accountability between states is highly skewed. Poor and weak states are easily held to account, because they need foreign assistance. But large and powerful states, whose actions have the greatest impact on others, can be constrained only by their own people, working through their domestic institutions.”

President Truman, the diplomat said, “showed what can be achieved when the U.S. assumes that responsibility. And still today, none of our global institutions can accomplish much when the U.S. remains aloof. But when it is fully engaged, the sky’s the limit.”

Mr. Annan obliquely urged the Bush administration not to give up on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The Bush administration did not seek election to the council last year, and U.S. officials have indicated that they are not inclined to do so this year either.

• David R. Sands contributed to this report.

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