Monday, October 18, 2004

Annan 'Responsible' for Slaughter and Butchery

Not one to talk
Lorne Gunter
National Post
October 18, 2004

Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, thinks the invasion of
Iraq has made the world a more dangerous place.

Mr. Annan told a British television audience yesterday, "I cannot say the
world is safer when you consider the violence around us ... and see the
terrorist attacks around the world and you see what is going on in Iraq. "

Last month, Mr. Annan told another British television interviewer the
invasion was "illegal," that "it violated the UN Charter."

He's a great one to talk.

Mr. Annan, personally, probably bears as much responsibility for slaughter
and butchery -- through his inaction and ineptitude -- as any person on

First as under-secretary for peacekeeping and later as secretary-general,
Mr. Annan has consistently had difficulty distinguishing good from evil.

It's not his shortcoming alone, of course. The entire United Nations and
most of the European Union are great practitioners of "moral equivalence."
According to their view, both sides in any dispute have been equally bad.
Both have committed crimes, atrocities and violations against
international law. Both are equally in need of a time out.

In his insightful 2003 book, Of Paradise and Power, U.S. foreign policy
analyst Robert Kagan argued that Europe and the UN have wrongly convinced
themselves that the world has entered "a post-historic paradise of peace"
and "is moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules
and transnational negotiation and co-operation."

That might work if all 200-plus nations in the world were post-modern
industrial states with stable democracies; rich, secular, educated
populations and an ingrained commitment to the rule of law. But try
talking "soft power" and cultural exchanges to the nationalist militia
commander with a legion of fervent soldiers, 10,000 AK-47s and a
centuries-old hate-on for the tribe across the river.

Idealist naivete such as the UN's may score high marks in an undergraduate
debate on international conflict resolution. But in the real world, it is
typically a recipe for bloodshed. While high-minded diplomats such as Mr.
Annan mill about conference rooms and buffet tables, piously reassuring
one another of their intellectual complexity and moral sophistication,
jihadis, warlords, death squad leaders, dictators and generalissimos show
no hesitation in killing their enemies.

Usually, Mr. Annan dithers until it is too late to stop barbarism. Most of
the time, the best he can muster is to send in his humanitarian workers
after the ethnic cleansing or forced relocation is over and minister to
the needs of the refugees.

On those rare occasions Mr. Annan has been able to see what needs doing
while there is still time to act -- as in the current genocide in the
Darfur region of Sudan -- he has either lacked the courage to pull the
trigger or been insufficiently persuasive to provoke international action.

The slaughter of 7,000 men and boys in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in July, 1995,
is the worst genocide in Europe since the Second World War. As the
first-ever UN-designated "safe area," Srebrenica was Mr. Annan's
responsibility as the organization's chief peacekeeper.

The massacre of up to 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda in the spring of 1994 by
Hutu tribesmen wielding clubs and machetes -- roughly 10,000 per day for
nearly three months -- also happened on Mr. Annan's watch.

And to the extent the Srebrenica carnage is still used by Islamic
fundamentalists to recruit new suicide bombers and terror operatives --
the dead were Muslims murdered by Orthodox Bosnian Serbs -- the
Secretary-General's failure to order force to protect those inside has
contributed as much to making the world more dangerous as Operation Iraqi

Add in his powerlessness to intervene in Kosovo and his willingness to
turn a blind eye to hundreds of millions in bribes paid to UN, French,
Russian and Chinese officials through the Iraq oil-for-food program and
Mr. Annan hasn't much of a moral leg to stand on.

But is he right? Is the world more dangerous now?

In the short-term, probably. In the longer term, definitely not.

Right now there is more danger and violence as a result of the invasion,
and there are at least four reasons for that. The United States didn't
turn over administration of Iraq to Iraqis fast enough, having
overestimated the gratitude with which Iraqis would welcome U.S.
liberation. This led to the second reason: The United States
underestimated how troops would be needed -- how many "boots on the
ground" -- to mollify the Iraqi insurgency. This undermined the Pentagon's
primacy in running the post-war transition, which prompted the third
reason: The multilateralists at the U.S. State department and CIA were
handed a wedge to meddle in (and delay) the turnover of authority to the
Iraqis themselves.

But mostly the invasion has made the world (temporarily) more dangerous
because the terrorists who have rushed into that country understand better
than the nabobs of Western diplomacy and academia that whether or not Iraq
should have been such a high priority in the war on terrorism, it has
nonetheless become the front line. They know, even if the invasion's
Western critics do not, that their worldwide jihad rises or falls on their
ability to pin down the United States in Iraq the way the Soviets were
mired in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

But as the Israeli experience has shown, confronting terrorists -- blowing
up their training camps, assassinating their leaders, rooting them out of
their hideouts and building walls against their attacks -- will ultimately
reduce those attacks, even if it cannot end them completely. Before Israel
changed its tactics in 2002, from containment to confrontation of its
terrorists, suicide bombings came at the rate of more than one per week.
Now it is about one per month.

Now, too, that the Americans and their coalition allies have begun
attacking the Iraqi insurgents and terrorists in Fallujah, Sadr City,
Najaf and elsewhere in Iraq, the world may look more dangerous for a
while. But it is the right thing to do. In Iraq, as in other nations,
terrorism cannot be wiped out entirely. But it will be reduced.