Monday, September 20, 2004

Kofi Annan

This says it all. No need for commentary.

Last we checked, U.N. chief Kofi Annan was promising to help the U.S. rebuild Iraq. But pressed by a BBC interviewer last week, the Secretary-General stated flat out that the liberation of Iraq was "illegal" and a violation of the U.N. Charter. He had already opined that "there should have been a second resolution" authorizing the invasion, and that "I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time."

These thoughts could certainly stand a little parsing. Mr. Annan seems to be saying that the only way force can be used legitimately in the modern world is with the unanimous permission of the U.N. Security Council. So perhaps we should remind him of some recent history.

For example, there was that splendidly legitimate U.N. operation in Bosnia, where its blue-helmeted peacekeepers watched with indifference as Serbian soldiers rounded up for slaughter thousands of Muslim men in the so-called U.N. "safe haven" of Srebrenica. Or Rwanda in 1994, where Mr. Annan--then head of the U.N. peacekeeping office--shrugged off panicked warning calls from the U.N. commander on the ground, thereby allowing the slaughter of 800,000.

And if liberating Iraq was wrong, Mr. Annan must also believe it was wrong for NATO to have intervened in Kosovo, where Russia once again prevented Security Council unanimity. How about the recent French intervention in the Ivory Coast, which the Security Council got around to blessing only after it was a fait accompli? And notwithstanding the latest U.N. promises, what if Gallic and Chinese oil interests block international action in Sudan, allowing the continued attacks on Darfurians? It would appear, on this evidence, that Security Council unanimity isn't exactly the gold standard of legitimacy, much less of morality.

And what's this business about a "second" Iraq resolution? U.N. Resolution 1441 was the 17th resolution demanding that Saddam verifiably disarm, behave with some modicum of respect for the rights of his own citizens, and otherwise comply with conditions of the ceasefire following the end of the 1991 Gulf War. From firing at American planes patrolling the no-fly zones, to widespread sanctions busting, to a banned long-range missile program, the Iraqi dictator was in undeniable breach in March 2003 of the terms under which his regime was spared back in 1991. In other words, there was never any legal need for even Resolution 1441.