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.