Save Kofi Annan (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Elliott Abrams 04/27/12)
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Kofi Annan is a very nice man. All those around the world who would
second that notion, or indeed actively endorse it with great energy,
should be joining together now to salvage his reputation.
As secretary-general of the United Nations, Annan did not achieve
much and did not push the great powers hard. But that is precisely
why he was appointed secretary-general, and then re-appointed. He got
along with everyone, and, unlike Kurt Waldheim, did nothing that
brought opprobrium on the institution. So he emerged with his
reputation intact in 2006, and kept it that way: no dirty deals for
quick millions, no association with rotten causes.
Until now. Now, Annan is, objectively speaking, the greatest asset of
the Assad regime. His failed mediation, or investigation, or
negotiation, or whatever you want to call it, is preventing
additional action against the Syrian regime. Assad is murdering
scores of citizens, day after day, making a mockery of Annan and his
peace plan. The decline in violence lasted a couple of days, and now
Assad has reverted back to his ways. Annan has voiced alarm at the
surge of violence, but the only solution he offered was the
deployment of 300 U.N. “observers,” whom Syria is delaying and who,
in any event, are not going to stop the Assad killing machine.
So those who want to do nothing now hide behind Annan and his “plan,”
and behind its facade Assad expands the devastation. The day that
Annan acknowledges these facts and resigns from this position will be
the day that the U.S. and the EU will have to face facts about Syria –
and do something.
Only this week the U.S. president chose to speak about preventing
atrocities, and to do so at the Holocaust Museum. The new mechanisms
he outlined are useful, and will serve well whenever any president is
determined to act. When a president is determined not to act, they
will have no impact. There are always mechanisms available when
officials wish to avoid facing a problem, just as there are means to
act when the desire to do so is there.
Right now the best reason the U.S., and everyone else, can offer for
avoiding action on Syria is Kofi Annan and his peace plan. Annan owes
it to himself, and his friends should be telling him, to quit – right
now, immediately. A clear statement outlining all the efforts he has
made and all the lies, deceit, and killings by the Assad regime would
restore Annan’s own reputation (indeed, enhance it greatly) and force
the U.S. and the EU to face the fact that the U.N. mission in Syria
is dead. As secretary-general, the structures of the U.N. gave Annan
some degree of justification for failing to speak truth to power.
Today, he has no excuses.
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