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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Conservatives going after Annan

Been following Safire's relentless hatchet job on the U.N. and Kofi Annan unfold on the NYTimes Op-Ed page (see this scathing Salon review of Safire's MO).

It heated up in the past week, as the disrespectable Senator from MN, Norm Coleman, got himself some media attention by calling for Annan's resignation. (I'm trusting Garrison Keillor's judgment on Coleman...which this episode just confirms.) See this remarkably forthright Strib editorial on Coleman's: "A Sordid Move by Coleman" indeed.

Check this commentary from the LA Times, headlined "Lynch Mob's Real Target Is the U.N., Not Annan." The concluding paragraphs:
For those who want the U.N. simply to go away, physically as well as politically, the oil-for-food scandal proves that the entire enterprise is irremediable (though this seems tantamount to arguing that the recent spate of corporate accounting frauds demonstrates the failure of free-market capitalism). What conservatives cannot accept, at bottom, is the premise that an international body, even one over which the United States exercises enormous sway, should be allowed to pass on the legitimacy or legality of American actions. And if you can't accept that, you can't accept the U.N.

It's striking that the Bush administration, for all its notorious unilateralism, has not yet joined the chorus (though neither has it tried to stem it). Annan infuriated administration officials when he called the Iraq war illegal and again when he argued against the recent assault on Fallouja. But just now, the administration finds itself needing the U.N. and its vexed legitimacy in Iraq, where the organization is helping set up the impending elections. The administration wants more U.N. election advisors, not fewer. Perhaps, secretly, it also wants a bigger U.N. role so that it can blame the organization if and when the elections fail. But that too makes the organization indispensable. It makes you wonder what the mob would do with Annan's silver scalp if they ever got it.

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