Monday, May 02, 2005

"Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!"

Once seen, never forgotten, Kenneth Williams pronouncing that line as Julius Caesar, being slaughtered in the Senate in Carry on Cleo.

Life seems to keep imitating, if not art precisely, then entertainment. We all remember the Clintons announcing that there was a huge right-wing conspiracy, which, undoubtedly forced Bill into leching and assaulting every woman who came near him, carrying on in a way that would have made Sid James blush in the Oval Office and, above all, committing perjury and suborning others to do the same.

(And I am not even going to talk about Whitewater, Vince Foster and the strange carryings on in the travel section of the White House.)

All of that was part of that vast right-wing plot. They made him do it. They made Hillary lie like a trooper and they made the Clintons move truckloads of what most certainly did not belong to them from the White House as they were finally leaving.

Now we have SecGen Kofi Annan crying infamy. He has gone one better than the Clintons. It is not just a vast right-wing plot, it is a “lynch mob”. The implication that it is somehow racist to oppose corruption, inefficiency, bloodthirsty kleptocratic tyranny is, perhaps, not quite what one should expect from the Secretary General of the United Nations, that persists in setting itself up as the highest court of international morality and legality.

Nor are we too impressed with the further implication that being African gives SecGen Annan and his appalling son the right to do whatever they feel like doing with gadzillions contributed by the taxpayer.

Meanwhile more scandals are unearthed. Many of them centre round sexual abuse by UN troops and officials of women and children in war-torn African countries. One would think that SecGen Annan might have displayed some solidarity with the people of his Continent but he has done little but shrug the problems aside.

Then there is the story of the UN troops in DR Congo, attempting to disarm the various militias. Unsurprisingly, the whole vastly expensive exercise was unsuccessful. Who is going to disarm in that particular situation?

The first group to hand over its weapons will be slaughtered. Some of the Congolese groups and tribes may have heard what happened in Srebrenice, where the men were disarmed by the UN, then handed over to the Serb militia to be butchered. (By the way, the whole episode was investigated by the Dutch government but not by the UN. Why is that?)

And so we come to the ongoing saga of the oil-for-food. SecGen Kofi Annan (father of Kojo, who now seems to reside permanently in Nigeria) maintains that he was exonerated by the interim Volcker report.

Not so, say several members of that commission, two of whom, Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan have resigned in protest of what they see as a de facto cover up for senior UN officials, including, one must assume the SecGen.

Other complaints have been voiced about Paul Volcker’s impartiality and the Commission’s alacrity in dismissing any evidence that pointed to greater direct involvement on the part of the SecGen.

In particular, there is the looming testimony of Pierre Mouselli, a former business partner of Kojo’s, who will be questioned by the congressinal investigators next month. M Mouselli has claimed repeatedly that he met the SecGen in the company of his son and that said son’s business activities, including his involvement with Cotecna were discussed.

Clearly M Mouselli is a leader of the lynch pack.

The SecGen, in the meantime, has tried to appeal to everybody’s better feelings (except those of the potential lynchers, presumably, as they have no better feelings, being completely unable to recognize Annan’s saintly nature).
“I’m suffering on vairous levels. As a secretary-general and as a father dealing with his son. It’s all very heavy and difficult.

There hasn’t been too much to laugh about. There have been those difficult periods when you wonder, ‘What’s it all about and were are we going?’

I’ve been under pressure for how many years now? Almost 15 years. I can handle the pressure but certain things touch you.”
Hmm. It is, of course, easier to handle pressure when you are never held responsible for any of the catastrophes, massacres, misappropriations that have happened while you have been in charge and under all that pressure.

Meanwhile, escaping from the lynch mob, SecGen Annan presided over the quinquennial meeting of members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It seems that there is trouble with North Korea, that has just tested another device and Iran, that is pushing its luck again with the EU troika, Britain, France and Germany. The mullahs have once again announced that they are not going to play ball and will resume nuclear construction.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, escaping temporarily from his own scandals to do with visas to East Europeans, explained that he was prepared to deliver a stern warning to his counterpart Kamal Kharrazzi.

All in all, a normal working day in an intenational organization and not a lynch mob in sight.

By an interesting coincidence in the book section of yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph George Walden reviewed Nic Dunlop’s The Lost Executioner: A Story of the Khmer Rouge.

There are few tales so full of horror as that of the Khmer Rouge and its atrocities in Cambodia. There are few tales so frustrating as the attempts to bring some of the monstrous executioners and torturers to some semblance of justice.

Mr Walden rightly points out that in all the chatter about Abu Ghraib
“we no longer comprehend pure evil, or do not want to”.
The prisoners whom Comrade Duch, the anti-hero of the book tortured and murdered in Tuel Sleng would have thought that they had died and gone to paradise if they had found themselves in Abu Ghraib.

Both the book and George Walden’s review bring out the distasteful part played by the UN and the various NGOs “stationed” in Cambodia in 1992-3, during the turbulent period that eventually produced the democratic regime.
“These organisations, shielded from reality by their expensive lifestyles, and blinded to what was happening by their neutralisty stance between killers and victims, stood by while the Khmer rouge regrouped and launched a campaign of terror to derail the elections the UN was there to supervise.

UN bureaucrats stuck stubbornly to their brief. The word ‘genocide’ was banned in favour of the phrase ‘the policies and practices of the recent past’, and terms such as ‘peacekeeping’ and ‘non-intervention’ were officiously mouthed as the violence spiralled around them.

To general amazement 96 per cent of Cambodians ignored terrorist threats and turned out for the elections.”
No doubt, this, too, contributed to the pressure SecGen Annan (at the time merely Head of Operations) has been under for 15 years.

Oh and by the way, there has been no pressure from various international legal luminaries to try the Cambodian butchers.

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