- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 7, 2006

1:34 p.m.

NEW YORK — The United Nations’ No. 2 official accused the U.S. government of keeping Middle America in the dark about the world body’s good works, a rare direct criticism that drew an angry response today from Ambassador John Bolton.

Mr. Bolton called yesterday’s speech by Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown a “very, very grave mistake” that could undermine Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s efforts to push through an ambitious agenda at the world body.

“I spoke to the secretary-general this morning. I said, ‘I’ve known you since 1989, and I’m telling you this is the worst mistake by a senior U.N. official that I have seen in that entire time,’” Mr. Bolton told reporters today.

“To have the deputy secretary-general criticize the United States in such a manner can only do grave harm to the United Nations,” Mr. Bolton said.

In the speech, Mr. Malloch Brown said the United States relies on the United Nations as a diplomatic tool but doesn’t defend it against criticism at home, a policy of “stealth diplomacy” that he called unsustainable.

He lamented that the good works of the United Nations are mostly lost because “much of the public discourse that reaches the U.S. heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors, such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.”

“The U.N.’s role is, in effect, a secret in Middle America even as it is highlighted in the Middle East and other parts of the world,” Mr. Malloch Brown said.

The speech was delivered at a daylong conference sponsored by two think tanks, the Center for American Progress and the Century Foundation. Mr. Malloch Brown called it a “sincere and constructive critique of U.S. policy toward the U.N. by a friend and admirer.”

It was a rare instance of a senior U.N. official directly and openly criticizing a member state. An unwritten U.N. rule says high-ranking officials don’t name names or shame nations.

Yet Mr. Malloch Brown and even Mr. Annan have done so in the past. Last year, with the United Nations under intense criticism over the Iraq oil for food program, Mr. Annan said that opponents of the United Nations had been “relentless” and that the world body wasn’t fighting back enough.

U.S. officials, including Mr. Bolton, said they were especially upset that Mr. Malloch Brown, a Briton, mentioned Middle America.

Mr. Bolton said Mr. Malloch Brown’s “condescending, patronizing tone about the American people” was the worst part about the speech.

“Fundamentally and very sadly, this was a criticism of the American people, not the American government, by an international civil servant,” Mr. Bolton said. “It’s just illegitimate.”

The United Nations had no immediate comment about Mr. Bolton’s remarks or whether Mr. Annan would respond.

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