Monday, April 04, 2005

Kofi Annan and the UN

Wow, Adriana's comments could drive the post on this blog for awhile. She asked what I thought about Kofo Annan being cleared of any wrongdoing in the kerfuffle about his son, Kojo, who worked for an inpsection firm that had a contract with the Oil for Food Program.

I wrote a pretty in depth article about Oil for Food for Forbes last year and I've always thought this flap about Kofi's son kind of missed the point. The real problem is that the Oil for Food program was gamed by the companies who bought and traded the oil and that, somewhere along the line, Saddam Hussein was bribed with some of the proceeds. The United Nations failed us because they didn't monitor the trades of the oil once it left Iraq's ports. That, along with judicious use of various tax havens around the world, allowed the program to become corrupted. Any failure of the UN is a failure of its Secretary General, and for that, Annan (who I like) should have stepped down.

Think about it this way -- had the Oil for Food program worked, we could have countered Bush's argument for war with the response that Saddam didn't have the money to build weapons of mass destruction in the first place. The failure of the program gave Saddam the means to build those weapons and removed a vital argument for those of us who were anti-war.

Now, the thing with Annan's son was just an embarassment. As I said on CNN awhile back, maybe he didn't do anything wrong, but it's still something that never should have happened. The son of the Secretary General of the United Nations should not have been working for a company that had a contract to perform services for a politically sensitive operation. It just shouldn't have happened. It's not the most eggregious lapse of judgment I've ever seen, but, when you're a target for criticism and you know you're a target for criticism, I say you don't just hand your critics an easy issue.

And, let's be intellectually honest, here -- haven't we all been at leat skeptical of Halliburton's ability to win big government contracts from a White House that includes its former CEO as Veep? Kofi, his son and the management of Cotecna (the firm Kofi's son worked for) should have known better.

I like Kofi Annan. But I think the UN, as an institution, is more important than he is. I still think he should step down.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home