Kofi Annan

From the BBC:

Kofi Annan, the only black African to become UN secretary-general, has died.

The 80-year-old “passed away peacefully on Saturday after a short illness”, the foundation named after him said.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for helping to revitalise the international body, during a period that coincided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pandemic.

My abiding memory of Kofi Annan is his repeatedly appearing on my TV screen shaking his head sadly and saying he was “gravely concerned” about something or other, and that something or other continuing as if he didn’t exist. I always thought he was probably a decent guy, but hopelessly weak and easily manipulated. The Iraq War probably did more damage to the UN than any other event: firstly the weapons inspectors dillied, dallied and let themselves get pushed around for a decade; then two permanent members of the security council undermined the very sanctions they voted for by doing illegal business with Saddam Hussein; then two other permanent members decided to gather up a posse and attack Iraq under the auspices of Resolution 1441, telling a pack of lies in the process. Of the five permanent members and the UN itself, the only entity that came out looking good was China. And doesn’t that tell you everything? As the UN was rendered impotent by its senior members, Kofi Annan shook is head and said he was gravely concerned. Nobody cared.

This would not be so bad were this not the first time something awful happened on his watch, but as the BBC says:

However, Annan was not immune from criticism. His critics blamed him for the UN’s failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s when he was head of the organisation’s peacekeeping operations.

Kofi Annan was head of UN peacekeeping between 1992 and 1996. During that period we not only had the Rwandan genocide – which happened right under the UN’s nose – but also the Screbrenica massacre. I find it hard to blame the individual Dutch soldiers in blue helmets who stood by and let a few thousand Bosnians get murdered by Serbs, but the Dutch government was so ashamed they resigned en masse in 2002. Not Annan, however: despite having failed to prevent two of the worst acts of genocide in my lifetime he got promoted a short time afterwards to the top spot. I’d be interested to know what you have to do to miss out on promotion at the UN, let alone get fired.

Unfortunately, Kofi wasn’t the only Annan making headlines during his tenure either. His son Kojo was also in the papers for being neck-deep in Iraq’s oil-for-food scandal, which (again) occurred right under the nose of his father. As Mark Steyn said back in 2005 in an article that’s worth reading in full:

You’ll recall that Kofi Annan’s son Kojo – who had a $30,000-a-year job but managed to find a spare quarter-million dollars sitting around to invest in a Swiss football club – has been under investigation for some time for his alleged ties to the Oil-for-Food programme. But the investigators have now broadened their sights to include Kofi’s brother Kobina Annan, the Ghanaian ambassador to Morocco, who has ties to a businessman behind several of the entities involved in the scandal – one Michael Wilson, the son of the former Ghanaian ambassador to Switzerland and a childhood friend of young Kojo. Mr Wilson is currently being investigated for suspected bribery over a $50 million contract to renovate the Geneva offices of the UN World Intellectual Property Organisation.

The actual head of the Oil-for-Food racket, Kofi sidekick Benon Sevan, has resigned, having hitherto insisted that a mysterious six-figure sum in his bank account was a gift from his elderly aunt, a lady of modest means who lived in a two-room flat back in Cyprus. Paul Volcker’s investigators had planned to confirm with auntie her nephew’s version of events, but unfortunately she fell down an elevator shaft and died.

Most of the Ghanaian diplomatic corps and their progeny seem to have directorships at companies with UN contracts and/or Saddamite oil options. I had no idea being a Ghanaian ambassador’s son opened so many doors, and nor did they till Kofi ascended to his present eminence.

I got the impression the world gave Kofi Annan a pass on almost everything because, as an African, he was held to appallingly low standards. The same bigotry of low expectations which plagues prominent Africans everywhere was applied to Annan time and again, but reading the tributes pouring in it seems he’s been deified in the same manner as Nelson Mandela. For example:

Well, okay. But I remember him for being utterly ineffectual and presiding over a UN which proved itself to be both impotent and corrupt in equal measure, both of which got considerably worse when he was in charge – perhaps because he was in charge. This from the BBC sums up his career for me:

He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a solution to the conflict.

He quit his post as UN envoy to Syria after only six months in the role, citing the failures of world powers to fulfil their commitments.

He did seem like a kind, decent person and I wish him to rest in peace, but he is undeserving of the professional platitudes being heaped on him.


30 thoughts on “Kofi Annan

  1. Perhaps the most famous Ghanaian of all times. The Ghanaian military have set up The Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Centre in Accra, I have driven by it a few times and reckon I could take the fucking lot of them!

    May he rest in peace.

  2. “He did seem like a kind, decent person and I wish him to rest in peace, but he is undeserving of the professional platitudes being heaped on him.”

    The man was corrupt global elite-sucking scum. If there is a Hell his paid-off and self-pampered arse is on its way there now.

    A neighbour of mine–a decent old chap –died yesterday. He was an ordinary bloke who tried to do right all his life and got the usual small reward for doing so but since he was neither a thief nor a stooge of International evil and corruption I would account him worth a UN building full of Kofi Annans and his puke son.

  3. So, lemme get this straight: the once head of the Dictator’s Club (motto: come shopping in New York, enjoy luxury hotels and diss the west, all expenses paid) turned out to be highly sainted but utterly ineffectual when push came to shove?

    Colour me shocked! Shocked, I tell you.

    PS Why is it all these modestly paid and totally devoted, selfless public servants all end up with zillions in the bank and live the sort of life that only the corrupt can manage? Hmmm…

  4. If The Dutch contingent, the US, EU or UN (any one except the last) had shown an ounce of grit the Srebeniça massacre wouldn’t have happened. Mladiç & Co were shits but not stupid shits and the probability of their country being bombed to shit would have deterred them.

    It was only when they tried to repeat the trick in Kosovo that their country got bombed to shit anyway.

    As for that British general, who in a stand-off with some grubby terrorists, said that he wasn’t going to risk starting WW3…

  5. Zut alors

    To be fair, the “grubby terrorists “, were Russian Paratroopers who had seized the airport. General Mike Jackson, for it was he, had a point.

  6. My definitive memory of the [redacted] is him taking credit for the “UN’s” response to the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, when in fact the US military was doing the heavy lifting, somehow without UN supervision.

  7. Recusant is correct. The Russians had moved with astonishing speed in Kosovo, painted up their vehicles with the necessary logos (even though they weren’t officially part of it) and dashed to grab key installations, such as Pristina airport. The west, hampered by political doctrine rather than just doing things, were caught out. Jackson refused an order by an American general, Clark, to take offensive action.

    True the Russkis may have been grubby, but they were itching for trouble .

  8. Recusant

    Like I said, grubby terrorists.
    How was Russia doing at the time? Getting help from the IMF on the economy, Interpol on the more egregious thieves, US to ensure their ICBMs didn’t blow up on the launchpad, etc.?

  9. Watcher

    what astonishing speed? And why couldn’t “UN peacekeepers” / NATO match this speed? Yeltsin was still nominally president so it’s a fair bet the russki chain of command was a shit fest.
    Why were they even there? Because of some sentimental BS from WW1 and loyalty to the Orthodox church which they’d spent the last 70 years crapping on.

  10. Mr ecks I think what you said about Mr Annan was unfair. For many people Mr Annan was a nice and loyal friend.

  11. zut alors, that was Mike Jackson’s finest hour (his second finest being his performance at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry); other than that, I think he should have stuck to singing.
    The Bolsheviks’ attempted suppression of their Orthodox Church has no relevance as the USSR no longer existed in 1999 and Russia had ceased being Communist; and Sir Mike was correct to instruct a US Army officer that he was ‘not going to start the Third World War for’ him.
    With Russia no longer Communist (not that their Communism prevented us being allies in WW2), we have no cause to be antagonistic towards them. They would be allies against extreme Islam, and indifferently to benignly neutral in other spheres. And comparing Russia’s promotion of Christianity and family and their stance against depravity with the West’s opposite positions, one can only think of the Mitchell & Webb line: ‘Are we the baddies?
    It should not be Britain’s role to be a vassal of Washington (or Brussels or anywhere else). America is not a good friend of either us or anyone else in the world.
    Vietnam was one of USG’s first goes at regime change—on their *ally*—when they sponsored a coup and had Ngô Đình Diệm and his brother Ngô Đình Nhu murdered; then after turning that country and Cambodia into ruins, they cut and run and left their *allies* to the Communists.
    The last letter of Cambodian prime minister Sirik Matak to the US ambassador makes poignant reading (Sirik was executed by the Khmer Rouge).
    They shafted us and France at Suez (to the point of contemplating military action against us), preferring to chummy up to Soviet-backed Muslims rather than be loyal to their *allies* who only 3 years prior had been shoulder to shoulder with them in Korea (where we suffered the Eternal American ‘Friendly Fire’).
    They did nothing to prevent arms going to the IRA and their courts gave sanctuary to IRA terrorists, Irish-American votes being more important to their politicians than the lives of British soldiers, women and children—their Nato *ally*.
    They shafted us over the Cod War with Iceland, Johnny-Come-Lately Iceland being more important to USG than the *ally* of three wars.
    In Bernard Lewis’s words: ‘America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.’
    Palmerston was right: No permanent allies, only permanent interests.

  12. Zut alors:

    The Russkis outflanked the west by painting their vehicles and dashing ahead, confusing the western ‘forces.’ No economic help needed for a tin of white paint.

    I suspect we couldn’t match any speed because we thought we were playing a simple game. So, in military terms, they understood our side didn’t think anyone would be so bold, so imaginative or so determined.

    The Russian command structure may have been a shit fest but their troops on the ground only needed to use their initiative. It’s like the age old conflict between NCOs and officers; the former usually win.

    I suspect the Russians were there because they saw an advantage and reacted accordingly. Even if it was only to embarrass the west’s ‘superior’ might.

  13. @Omasan on August 19, 2018 at 8:38 pm said:

    For many people Mr Annan was a nice and loyal friend.

    Those he enriched were his nice and loyal friends.

  14. Paul Volcker’s investigators had planned to confirm with auntie her nephew’s version of events, but unfortunately she fell down an elevator shaft and died.

    How does the Anan death list compare with the Clinton death list?

  15. “Mr ecks I think what you said about Mr Annan was unfair. For many people Mr Annan was a nice and loyal friend.”

    Yeah and Adolf was kind to animals. It almost makes up for everything don’t it.

  16. Just on that Srebrenica massacre and the Dutch girlie boys laying down their arms and watching on as those that they were assigned to protect were marched off to their certain death that was the end of of the Dutch for me, resignations or not. Their military has went further downhill since, culminating in their only airborne regiment falling under german control. That is just wrong in my books.

    I could maybe understand it pre-war and by all accounts the Dutch Waffen SS and in fact most of the Benilux SS were top notch but for them now to surrender in peacetime to a deballed post war German military authority is just beyond the pale but indicative of their general approach to things. And I am sure a few of those dutch girlie boy patriots grandparents would have a few things to say about them being under the control of German jumpers.

  17. The Srebeniça massacre could be explained away as discretion being the better part of valour (not that I am actually excusing the Dutch inaction leading to the massacre – they should have taken a more robust stance and to hell with the consequences) but the UN troops in the former Yugoslavia were as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike and actively worked to enable the slaughter of civilians. Let me illustrate this …

    During the siege of Sarajevo, the UN controlled the airport under sufferance of the Serbs and although this did indeed prove to be a lifeline to the people of that city, it played into the attacking Serb hands as they used it as a propaganda tool to demonstrate their alleged humanity. The Serbs cynically disregarded every peace proposal, cease fire and truce as it suited them.

    The Serbs controlled the land to the north and south of the airport, the Bosnians to the east and west. The Serbs only allowed the UN to control the airport if they prevented the Bosnians escaping across the airport towards the western side and comparative safety. The Serbs ran a very effective sniper war and shot anyone (including UN troops) at will, both on the airport itself and the road to and from Sarajevo ( the airport is located several kilometres to the south west of the city). Trying to cross the airport in daylight was suicidal but when the Bosnians tried to sneak across at night, the UN turned floodlights on to illuminate the people crossing which, predictably, the Serbs shot down. Hardly a humanitarian gesture but necessary to comply with the Serb demands that they be “neutral”.

    This condition held until the Bosnians managed to dig a tunnel under the airport which was completed in July 1993 and allow their non combatants to leave the city.

    The situation is described in detail in a book called Fry the Brain by John West which studies urban sniping. I would recommend buying the book rather than reserving it through the local library unless you want to have a visit from the authorities …

    In short, the UN troops actually aided the genocide, at least in this particular instance and it is debatable that the situation would have been less bloody had they not been there at all. It is in the same situation that the League of Nations was in before WW2 with the atrocities in Abyssinia – totally ineffective and ultimately the league of Nations disintegrated. The UN needs to be dissolved and defunded as it is merely a talking shop and a slush fund to enrich the third world and drive the west into poverty.

  18. Watcher,

    KFOR were scheduled to move into Kosovo on a negotiated schedule, partly because the route in was a series of tunnels and causeways through Balkan mountains – lots of places where “one angry Serbian” could have caused a lot of delay and some casualties.

    So, there was very limited option to “race in fast, the plan’s changed” that didn’t risk some “random angry Serbian who is Absolutely Not Supported By Belgrade, Oh No, They Could Never Condone This Rash Over-Reaction” slowing the whole process to a crawl by opening fire on “armed invaders who were not meant to be here yet”. (Plus, of course, sorting out all the issues of various KFOR contributors then saying “we’ve got National Caveats that say we can only do ‘peace support’ and this is now ‘peace enforcement’ so we can’t take part in this operation now” – the bureaucracy of coalition operations can be truly horrible, some nations will crack on and do stuff, some will say up front they’ve got notes from Mum and are excused all the shooty stuff, but some will say one thing… then do another)

    Of course, other Serbians elsewhere would never have shifted roadblocks, cleared routes and cheered hastily-repainted Russian BTRs past, that would imply they thought some members of KFOR were more supporting of Serbia than others – the Russians were merely lucky. Or something. There was no connivance with Belgrade. This was not a clever two fingers to NATO. The Russians were merely securing key assets for the good of all.

    A senior source in HQ ARRC at the time was of the opinion that Wesley Clark (then SACEUR) who had well-known political aspirations, wanted a forceful resolution to the Russians at Pristina because a bombing campaign followed by a NATO peacekeeping force wasn’t sufficiently proving his martial prowess, and especially having the Russians succeed with this move made him look ineffectual.

    So, he was demanding contingency plans for (a) defeating the Russian force at Pristina, (b) engaging the Russian reaction and reinforcement.. This was accompanied by a rousing, Patton-style speech to the ARRC senior staff about “the spirit of the bayonet”, and his well-reported confrontations with Mike Jackson (commanding KFOR) – first over comms, then face-to-face – over Jackson’s refusal to eject the Russians rather than merely contain them.

    Continuing to pass on the story (unconfirmed but source, and context of telling, credible) when given a face-to-face order, and told that “the Secretary-General of the UN wants this to happen”, Jackson played the “national caveat” mentioned earlier – part of the ballet of “Op Can, Op Can’t, Op Won’t, Op Yours!” danced by multinational forces – to cover his refusal to start shooting at the Russians, since – entirely accurately – a shooting match with Russia was entirely outside the authority he had been delegated from PJHQ Northwood. Clark started firing off angry messages, until that afternoon (Kosovo time) – as Washington DC woke up and read the Early Bird and the morning DIPTELs – his Batphone went off for a secure NOFORN conversation.

    “He swaggered in and he staggered out” was the description given of whatever was said in that exchange – and there were no more orders to Jackson to clear the airport “by any means”, no more speeches to the staff about bayonets, and no more plans to defeat or destroy any Russian reinforcements.

  19. Good stuff there Phil & Jason.

    Last one from me on Annan and the Srebrenica massacre. The entire UN position was biased right up until the NATO bombings started, otherwise Annan would have spoken out about the many well documented atrocities perpetrated on ethnic Serbs. Or spoke up about the installation of criminals to run a terrorist mafia narco state that has been connected with most Islamic terrorists groups that have plagued us ever since.

    Say a little prayer for them as well.


  20. The reasons the Russians rushed to Kosovo was because they were Serbia’s ally, the believed they had just as much right to send troops into Serbia as NATO did (there was no UN mandate for the action), and they didn’t want to stand by and let NATO do as they pleased. So they did something symbolic, but enough to give NATO pause (and lead Clarke to make a complete fool of himself).

    What happened was the Russians loaded up paratroopers into planes somewhere south of Moscow and flew them, by night, somewhere else. The soldiers on board had no idea where they were going, and were never told. They stayed on board while they were refuelled, then it took off again. When it landed, they were in Pristina Airport and the soldiers learned this from the signs.

    When Jackson and his forces approached the airport, the Russians – commanded by a colonel, went out to meet him. The meeting is memorable for the British because Jackson spoke Russian, which the Russian soldiers also remember. It is memorable for the Russians because their colonel drew a line in the dirt with something, ripped the patch off his shoulder bearing the outline of Russia, threw it on the ground and said: “This is Russian territory and it will be defended like Russian territory”. Mike Jackson’s response was to say: “Okay, fair enough. We’ll get back to you.”

    The Russian soldiers at the time were understandably worried, but also fired up. They stayed in the airport but found nobody had sent them food or water, so they had to ask the NATO troops for some. So far, so Russian. The Italians obliged, and the Russians probably ate better than they had in weeks. Once things settled down, the Russians were invited to do the joint patrolling with KFOR, but they came under attack from Kosovars. Several of them got killed by gunfire when travelling in an APC with their heads poking out the top.

    How do I know all this? A good friend of mine was one of the paratroopers who was there, and I made him tell me the story. He didn’t mind telling me that one, but he won’t breathe a word about Chechnya.

  21. I like it, classic US warhawk general supremely confident in his dominant and superior position and knowing that he is safe regardless of the outcome, orders other to fight his unnecessary fight. Only to be outfoxed by Europe’s best soldiers. Thank fuck, donkeys like him can quite easily bring it all down. I see he also resigned his post shortly thereafter and earlier than expected. Still none of them should have been there if you ask me but that’s another thing altogether.

  22. I see he also resigned his post shortly thereafter and earlier than expected.

    Laughably, he made a bid for president shortly afterwards. He’s recently been on Twitter criticising Trump, presumably for not stumbling into WWIII.

  23. @ScotchedEarth – great post.

    McNamara following the peace talks met his nemesis the Viet Cong General whose name escapes me, was totally shocked when he said to him that you Americans always had it wrong you thought that we would bring in the Chinese, when it was always about Vietnamese identity and isolation from China. This following 16 years of everybody in the US being convinced and going to war over the “domino theory”. Except for JFK of course.

    And then quite relevant to this thread he said:

    “that the basic lesson is to understand your opponent and we don’t understand the Bosnians, we don’t understand the Chinese and we don’t really understand the Iranians.”

    And don’t forget to add that Georgian goof head Saakashvili to the list of those that the US has hung out to dry.

    Haven’t the Russian military came a long way since their bold efforts at Pristina, now having Georgia, Crimea and Syria under their belt.

  24. Excellent thread, some further reading….

    This is pretty candid assessment of the Bosnian elites ties to Islamism and their support by Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Bosnian President Alija Izetbegović is an interesting character who seems to have inexplicably escaped the noterietry of his Serb and Croat counterparts.

    Also well worth a watch before it’s gone. Got a lot to say about Rwanda too. Sobering accusations. Billy Six good channel too. The guy gets around.

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