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Monday, May 16, 2005

Bugger Bolton

Good article in the Guardian today by Robin Cook, former Leader of the British House of Commons (who resigned in 2003 in protest over British and US hypocrisy and the war in Iraq), on why it is that the neocons hate Kofi Annan so very, very much and why sending Bolton to the UN is the ultimate kick in the teeth:
There is a breathtaking hypocrisy to the indictment of Kofi Annan over the oil for food programme for Iraq. It was the US and the UK who devised the programme, piloted the UN resolutions that gave it authority, sat on the committee to administer it and ran the blockade to enforce it. I know because I spent a high proportion of my time at the Foreign Office trying to make a success of it. If there were problems with it then Washington and London should be in the dock alongside the luckless Kofi Annan, who happened to be general secretary at the time.

But there is a deeper level of perversity to the denigration of Annan by the American right wing. They have long clamoured for reform of the UN. Kofi Annan has just proposed the most comprehensive overhaul of the UN in its history and is the general secretary most likely to deliver support for it. If they persist in undermining him they are likely to derail his reform package. The suspicion must be that they would rather have a creaking, ineffective UN to treat as a coconut shy than a modern, representative forum that would oblige them to respect collective decisions.

The eccentric selection of John Bolton as Bush's ambassador to the UN is consistent with such a strategy of sabotage rather than reform. His hostility to any constraint on US unilateralism is so deep, (and his life so sad), that he described his "happiest moment" signing the letter to Kofi Annan telling him that the US would have nothing to do with the international criminal court. His relish in the gesture is all the more revealing as the issue was not within the remit of his job, and he pleaded to be allowed to sign as a special favour.
Annan's proposal for the UN involves four new permanent seats for Africa and Asia, one that would hopefully be filled by a Muslim country (at present no permanent member represents the Muslim world). Putting Bolton in the middle of the UN mix is a big, giant neocon slap in the face to Annan, his leadership and any kind of change within the UN that would give a greater voice to the third world.

Because to paraphrase Wilde: it is not enough that we continue to be rich, someone else must be poor.

(Via Mark at Recidivist Journals)