- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Whatever one thinks of outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, it’s clear that he suffers no shortage of chutzpah — as evidenced by his willingness to lecture the United States about ethics and our supposed failure to live up to the values that made America great in the current struggle against international Islamofascism. Of course it would be absurd to pretend that the United States hasn’t made mistakes in its conduct of this war — just as we made them in World II, World War I and every other conflict the nation has been involved in. But Americans need no lectures from United Nations apparatchiks about what we can and cannot do to defend ourselves — especially from Mr. Annan, whose U.N. career has been marred by ethical lapses and serial incompetence, which include the looting of the oil-for-food program, the erosion and collapse of international sanctions against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government, Rwandan genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.

Regarding Iraq, Mr. Annan, who became secretary-general 10 years ago, was in the forefront of international appeasement of Saddam prior to September 11. In February 1998, for example, after the Iraqi ruler triggered a crisis by blocking U.N. weapons inspectors from doing their jobs, Mr. Annan went to Baghdad to cut a deal with Saddam weakening weapons inspections. The secretary-general then declared that Saddam had been misunderstood and gushed praise over his supposed courage. After achieving his “success” in negotiations with Saddam, Mr. Annan was honored at a state dinner in Paris by French President Jacques Chirac and received a hero’s welcome from U.N. staff after returning to New York.

In March 2000, when Saddam was in the process of diverting billions of dollars worth of oil-for-food program money intended for the Iraqi people to his international cronies, Mr. Annan was bragging to the Security Council about his success in making the program more transparent. Only after coalition troops ousted Saddam three years later did the world learn that Benon Sevan, the man Mr. Annan hired to run the program, had received vouchers for millions of barrels of oil from Saddam. Only when he came under pressure from Congress did Mr. Annan end his obstruction of congressional investigations of the scandal by releasing internal U.N. audits of the program. S. Iqbal Riza, Mr. Annan’s chief of staff, suddenly “retired” after it came to light that he authorized his secretary to shred several years worth of documents relevant to the investigation.

Perhaps the most shameful episode of Mr. Annan’s U.N. career was his failure, as director of peacekeeping operations during the 1990s, to take action to prevent Rwandan genocide. In 1994, Mr. Annan failed to act after being warned by Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire, commander of U.N. peacekeeping forces there, that Hutu radicals were planning to massacre members of the rival Tutsi tribe. Mr. Annan rejected Gen. Dallaire’s request to seize an arms cache that Hutu militias aligned with the Rwandan government were planning to use to massacre Tutsis. Mr. Annan’s decision helped pave the way for ensuing massacres in which 800,000 died. The following year in Bosnia, the failure of U.N. peacekeepers to keep their promises enabled Serbian troops and militiamen to execute 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

Given his own record of malfeasance, Mr. Annan is in no position to lecture the United States about its shortcomings.

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