Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A former U.N. human rights observer speaks out

Kenneth Cain, an attorney who worked for the U.N. in Africa, writes a scathing critique of Kofi Annan and the peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations in last Sunday's Guardian. Cain addresses not only the egregious failings of the U.N. but also the bizarre attitude that leftists in American and British have adopted. By not coming out strongly and clearly against the corruption, abuse, and moral uncertainty that has made the U.N. impotent against genocide, they have entered into a relationship of complicity with thugs and murderers ... it may be decades before the left can wash off the stink of the company it keeps. Whereas the left once defined itself according to moral principles (think of the anti-Aparthied divestment movement of the 1980's), it now defines itself by simply opposing whatever American Republicans support. Cain claims to be mystified that the left cannot find its moral compass.

As someone who walked away when my comrades cozied up to the Clintons, I happen to believe that the old moral compass has been gathering dust for years. Nonetheless, Cain's piece is stunningly blunt. Here's an excerpt:
The second searing irony for me is that the American neoconservative right has occupied the moral high ground in critique of Annan, outflanking the left, which sits on indefensible territory in his support. But if prevention of genocide and protection of the vulnerable are not core priorities on the left, then what is? If anyone's values have been betrayed, it is those of us on the left who believe most deeply in the organisation's ideals. I am mystified by the reluctance of the left both in the US and the UK (the Guardian 's coverage, for example) to criticise Annan's leadership. The bodies burn today in Darfur - and the women are raped - amid the sound of silence from Annan. How many genocides, the prevention of which is the UN's very raison d'ĂȘtre, will we endure before the left is moved to criticise Annan? Shouldn't we be hearing the left screaming bloody murder about the UN's failure to protect vulnerable Africans? Has it lost its compass so badly that it purports to excuse the rape of Congolese women by UN peacekeepers under Annan's watch? Is stealing money intended for widows and orphans in Iraq merely a forgivable bureaucratic snafu?


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