If Kofi Annan Was the “World’s Conscience,” Then the World Has No Conscience

Aug. 22 2018

The path to hell, the saying goes, is paved with good intentions. Perhaps no one has better embodied the truth of this adage in our time than the late Kofi Annan, who served as the UN’s secretary general from 1997 to 2006, and passed away on Saturday. Jonathan Tobin writes:

Annan . . . presided over the “oil for food” scandal—a shocking scam pulled off by his son, Kojo, who traded on his father’s prestige in order to profit from crooked deals linked to humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of those who lived in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq when it was being sanctioned by the international community for the regime’s crimes. . . . Annan bitterly denounced the press for holding the UN accountable. . . .

Annan also believed he had reformed the United Nations by replacing the corrupt and blatantly anti-Semitic Commission on Human Rights with a new Human Rights Council. The fact that the council turned out to be every bit as bad as (if not worse than) the commission it replaced may not be Annan’s fault. But it does speak volumes about the illusions that the foreign-policy establishment continues to hold about international institutions of this sort.

That’s the worst thing about the plaudits for Annan. Both the UN bureaucracy and most of those who claim to be experts on foreign policy tend to confuse their endlessly expressed good intentions about making the world a better or more peaceful place with actually doing things to effectuate those goals. . . . [W]hile Annan charmed the world and hobnobbed with celebrity philanthropists, who showered him and other powerful people like Bill and Hillary Clinton with praise, the UN bureaucracy remained a place that was helpless to stop mass murder. Equally disgraceful was that it also often served to legitimize the tyrants and psychopaths who preside over so many countries while routinely singling out the one Jewish state on the planet for unfair treatment.

What this means is that if—for all his elegance and projection of goodwill—Annan and the United Nations were the “world’s conscience” [as one obituary styled him], then for all intents and purposes, the world has no conscience and no one should pretend otherwise.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Politics & Current Affairs, Saddam Hussein, UNHRC, United Nations

Will America Invite Israel to Join Its Multinational Coalitions?

From the Korean War onward, the U.S. has rarely fought wars alone, but has instead led coalitions of various allied states. Israel stands out in that it has close military and diplomatic relations with Washington yet its forces have never been part of these coalitions—even in the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi missiles were raining down on its cities. The primary reason for its exclusion was the sensitivity of participating Arab and Muslim nations. But now that Jerusalem has diplomatic relations with several Arab countries and indeed regularly participates alongside them in U.S.-led joint military exercises, David Levy believes it may someday soon be asked to contribute to an American expedition.

It is unlikely that Israel would be expected by the U.S. to deploy the Golani [infantry] brigade or any other major army unit. Instead, Washington will likely solicit areas of IDF niche expertise. These include missile defense and special forces, two areas in which Israel is a world leader. The IDF has capabilities that it can share by providing trainers and observers. Naval and air support would also be expected as these assets are inherently deployable. Israel can also provide allies in foreign wars with intelligence and cyber-warfare support, much of which can be accomplished without the physical deployment of troops.

Jerusalem’s previous reasons for abstention from coalitions were legitimate. Since its independence, Israel has faced existential threats. Conventional Arab armies sought to eliminate the nascent state in 1948-49, 1967, and again in 1973. This danger remained ever-present until the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords, which established peace between Egypt and Israel. Post-Camp David, the threats to Israel remain serious but are no longer existential. If Iran were to become a nuclear power, this would pose a new existential threat. Until then, Israel is relatively well secured.

Jerusalem’s new Arab allies would welcome its aid. Western capitals, especially Washington, should be expected to pursue Israel’s military assistance, and Jerusalem will have little choice but to acquiesce to the expeditionary expectation.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: IDF, U.S. military, U.S.-Israel relationship