I couldn’t believe my ears last night when CBC's "The National" played a clip from the farewell address of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in which he says:
. . . respect for national sovereignty can no longer be used as a shield by governments intent on massacring their own people, or as an excuse for the rest of us to do nothing when such heinous crimes are committed.
But, as [Harry] Truman said, “If we should pay merely lip service to inspiring ideals, and later do violence to simple justice, we would draw down upon us the bitter wrath of generations yet unborn.”
At first I thought he was talking about Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and more specifically the Iraqis Hussein tortured and murdered, and all the UN resolutions he violated. But no, Annan was talking about the UN’s own failure on Darfur:
And when I look at the murder, rape and starvation to which the people of Darfur are being subjected, I fear that we have not got far beyond “lip service.”
Never mind. Annan was only admitting to one failing, not the fact that the UN under his watch has become even more of a talking shop that mouths pious platitudes and high ideals, while doing little to put those ideals into action. It could argued that it has allowed opposite ideals to advance (viz: North Korea, Iran).
But despite the fact that the US and its allies stopped the lip service and delivered simple justice to Saddam Hussein, Annan went on to take what he must have known would be a well-reported slap at President Bush:
The U.S. has given the world an example of a democracy in which everyone, including the most powerful, is subject to legal restraint. Its current moment of world supremacy gives it a priceless opportunity to entrench the same principles at the global level.
As Harry Truman said, “We all have to recognize, no matter how great our strength, that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please.”
Sadly, many media outlets fell for Kofi’s diversionary tactic and gave airtime to his inference that the US does what it pleases (“If only!” some of us might say), while downplaying the UN’s failure to prevent tyrants and terrorists from doing what they please.
“Say goodnight, Kofi Annan” by Paul Schneidereit in the Halifax Chronicle Herald (hat tip: National Newswatch)
Claudia Rosett at National Review Online, on the speech Annan should have given.