God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Thursday, November 24, 2005


The U.N. has now decided that we can talk our way to "understanding" with the Islamic world. Yeah right.
NEW YORK — After the epic disaster of Oil for Food, one might imagine the United Nations would tread carefully before launching any new and controversial efforts. Hardly.
Nope they don't learn from the past very well. Ironically, one of the reasons the U.N. was formed was to keep the world from repeating the same mistakes. Sigh.
Still reeling from scandals on many fronts, the U.N. has launched another questionable initiative, called the Alliance of Civilizations, which is due to hold its first meeting this weekend in Spain.
Two of the supervisors of this hapless venture are mired in U.N. scandals of the past.
Iqbal Riza, Annan’s former chief of staff from 1997 to 2004, and Giandomenico Picco, a longtime U.N. senior staffer who returned to the organization as a part-time personal envoy of the secretary-general and then as a special adviser, under a contract that does not expire until January 1. Riza was badly tarred in the Oil-for-Food scandal and its subsequent investigation; Picco has been involved in an equally high-profile conflict of interest arising from the multimillion-dollar scandal in the U.N. procurement department that is still under investigation.
It makes sense; why recruit new people to lead scandals when you can go with experienced crooks? Add to this obvious flaw the fact that the "Alliance" is heavily weighted toward the Islamic world (surprise, surprise.) The panel includes representatives of Egypt, Qatar, Tunisia, Morocco, Pakistan and the former president of Iran, Mohamed Khatami. There are two representatives from the U.S., but none from Israel. Sounds balanced to me.

The final nail in this doomed ventures coffin is its lack of a clear goal.
According to a statement issued by Annan in July, the Alliance is supposed to “overcome prejudice, misconceptions, misperceptions, and polarization” and assemble by late next year an action plan meant “to promote effective responses to emerging threats to world peace.” But in the short term, the Alliance has so far been mainly busy hiring its own secretariat on an initial budget of $3.7 million, and preparing for the first meeting of its ‘High-level Group” this weekend in Majorca, Spain.
Well, they certainly have a good handle on nepotism, obscene spending, and making use of posh resorts. Sounds like a perfect United Nations agency to me. Salut!


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