The liberal multilateralist case against Kofi Annan

Writing in the Opinion Journal, Kenneth Cain, who served in U.N. peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti and Liberia, argues that “the salient indictment of Kofi Annan’s leadership is lethal cowardice, not corruption” and that “the evidence is genocide, not oil.” Cain focuses on “the two ground-zeros of Mr. Annan’s failed leadership while he was head of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations–Rwanda and Bosnia.” In Rwanda, “at the crucial moment, Mr. Annan ordered his general to stand down and to vigorously protect, not genocide victims, assembled in their numbers waiting to die, but the U.N.’s image of ‘impartiality.'” In Srebrenica, “armed Blue Helmeted U.N. Peacekeepers–tasked under Mr. Annan’s leadership to protect Srebrenica’s civilians in this U.N.–declared ‘Safe Area’–watched passively” as thousands of Muslim men and boys were loaded on buses, never to be seen again. Cain concludes:

Liberal multilateralists on the left, like me, are often skittish about offering too pungent a critique of Mr. Annan, because it offers aid and comfort to the “enemy” on the conservative unilateralist right. But if anyone’s values have been betrayed at the U.N. over the past decade it is those of us who believe most deeply in the organization’s ideals. Just ask the men and women of Rwanda and Srebrenica.

I should think that either issue, cowardice/genocide or corruption/oil, constitutes a sufficient basis for removing Annan.

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