- The Washington Times - Monday, February 13, 2006

Kofi Annan’s tenure as secretary-general of the United Nations is coming to an end — that’s the good news. The bad news is the global powers that wanna be, who already are lobbying their pals in Turtle Bay and Geneva to replace him, possess the same international government philosophy as Mr. Annan. Their support must be won from a constituency that universally agrees the United Nations must grow bigger, stronger and more influential.

Over the next several months, the campaign to succeed Kofi Annan as U.N. secretary-general will continue, in private meetings and through brokered deals. Unlike U.S. presidential candidates, who begin publicly campaigning two to three years before Election Day, the international aspirants for secretary-general will be known to only a few hundred people.

For better or for worse, the secretary-generalship holds one of the world’s most powerful microphones. But in this campaign, there will be no public debates, no town hall meetings throughout the “global village,” and few interviews with the news media. And when the U.N. holds its annual seance in September, the new “SG” will be presented to the world as a representative of “we the peoples.”

Casual viewers of the United Nations wonder how it can do any worse than Kofi Annan. After all, the Man from Ghana presided over the U.N. Oil-for-Food fiasco — what most observers cite as the worst scandal in the scandal-plagued institution’s history. He was the U.N.’s point-man on peacekeeping during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. During Mr. Annan’s tenure, U.N. peacekeepers treated the children they were supposed to protect like visitors to the Neverland Ranch. And last week, while American and European diplomats met in Geneva to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis, Kofi Annan’s top concern was a cartoon printed in European newspapers.

But it can get worse. Current platitudes to the contrary, Americans don’t (or should not) want a more effective United Nations or secretary-general. For if any of Kofi’s successors can actually carry out their wishes for the institution, it will only undermine U.S. sovereignty and international influence.

Consider the views of Shashi Tharoor, a leading candidate to replace Kofi Annan. An affable chap and prolific writer, Mr. Tharoor now is undersecretary-general for communications and public information. A long-time ally of Kofi Annan, he is true powder blue, and believes the U.N. must be built into “an effective house of global governance for the 21st century.”

In 2003, Mr. Tharoor wrote a column for Foreign Affairs magazine titled, “Why America still needs the United Nations.” Mr. Tharoor argues that “acting in the name of international law is always preferable to acting in the name of national security,” meaning countries like the United States may only defend themselves with the advice and consent of the United Nations.

That is the same doctrine adhered to by Kofi Annan, who says, “There is no substitute for the unique legitimacy of the United Nations.” John Kerry’s explanation was simpler: He said America must meet a “global test” before defending itself.

Trying to undermine the U.S.-led coalition that removed Saddam Hussein from power, Mr. Tharoor elaborated: “The difference between a U.N. operation, in which everyone wears a blue helmet, and a ‘coalition of the willing,’ led by one big power, is similar to that between a police squad and a posse.”

In the same piece, Mr. Tharoor called the U.N./Clinton debacle in Somalia in 1993, which resulted in the deaths of 18 Americans, a “purely American-made disaster.”

Another leading candidate for secretary-general is Jayantha Dhanapala, undersecretary-general for disarmament affairs. When Mr. Dhanapala is not giving speeches on “Gender Perspectives on Disarmament,” he is undermining national sovereignty — a concept for which he has little use.

Mr. Dhanapala, a Sri Lankan, and one of the few announced candidates for the post, complained in a 2001 speech, “Obsolete though it may be in many ways, the nation-state nevertheless persists.” Pesky little things, those nation-states.

But in Mr. Dhanapala’s world, the sovereign country is “a quaint, even dangerous anachronism.” That explains why he is running a low-key campaign. When asked, Mr. Dhanapala said running for secretary-general is “more sacrosanct ” than “running for office in one’s own country” and the campaign must be carried out with “a certain level of dignity.”

There are other candidates for sure. Feminists demand a woman be named to the post. Asian countries argue it is their turn to have one of their own on the 39th floor of the U.N. building. Poland’s Aleksander Kwasniewski is a possible candidate. Even our own Bill Clinton has shown interest, though it’s unlikely John Bolton will forward his name to Foggy Bottom.

In the race for the next secretary-general, regardless of who wins, America loses. For in this race there is no global equivalent of Ronald Reagan preaching that “international government is the problem, not the solution.” There is no candidate who, on the world stage, echoes Barry Goldwater: “I have little interest in streamlining the United Nations or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size.”

There is no candidate who seeks to check the power of the U.N., only those who wish to expand it. Friends, the era of Big Global Government is far from over, it has only just begun.

Thomas P. Kilgannon is president of Freedom Alliance and author of the forthcoming book, “Diplomatic Divorce: Why America Should End Its Love Affair With the United Nations” by Stroud & Hall Publishers.

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