Sunday, August 20, 2006

Claudia Rosett on Kofi Annan and Hezbollah, and brief note on Paul Kennedy's UN hagiography, Parliament of Man

Claudia Rosett reviews the history behind the latest mission by the UN to bless and protect Hezbollah, here. But of course this would not matter so much if Israel had not so thoroughly botched its war, as Lenny Ben-David notes here in a dismaying review of corruption and unpreparedness in Israeli society, from the Jerusalem Post.

It is frankly just bizarre, by the way, to read Clauda Rosett's stream of articles, and have sat through the many interviews and discussions I did while working on the US Institute of Peace's UN reform task force, and then simultaneously be reading Paul Kennedy's hagiographic account of the rise of the UN, Parliament of Man. I guess the kindest thing one can say of Kennedy's account is that he has a thorougly Whiggish view of history. His lack of knowledge of the actual organization, as distinguished from the one sketched at the level of Platonic forms that he offers - weirdly, through a historical approach - means that he cannot even begin to give an account of why it (a) doesn't work and (b) is so astoundingly corrup at both the official and personal level. It may be that the historical approach allows him to ignore the sordid realities of the organization - again, the Whiggish view of history allows him to see it in a progressive and progressing light in which the unpleasantness of the present means very little in historical trajectory.

And of course Kennedy is careful to dismiss any such criticism in advance - all of it is simply cast as ideological.

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