Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Paul Kennedy on the UN as the world's scapegoat

Paul Kennedy, whose new book on the UN, Parliament of Man, I passingly trashed in a post below, has an op ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, August 20, 2006, titled "United Nations - The World's Scapegoat." Here. I am afaid that I do not find this op-ed very consistent with the overall theme and tone of Kennedy's book. Or very persuasive in the tears of sympathy it sheds for the poor UN senior executives and their impossible task - like the book in this regard, the op ed tends to sound like talking points handed out by the oliagenous Mark Malloch Brown and transmitted uncritically by Kennedy.

And anyway, Kennedy does what Annan does in pretty much every situation where someone takes the UN to task - retreats to the position that it is merely a member state organization, and he merely a ministerial executor of the will of the member states.

The problem, as Kennedy surely knows, is that Annan and the UN aristocracy in actual fact want it both ways - the ability to seek greater power, authority, and legitimacy for the organization and its senior executives, while always being able to escape criticism by retreating to the "humble servants of the member states" mumbo jumble that Kennedy endorses. Sorry, Professor Kennedy, you don't get it both ways.

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