1) Stupid headline of the day
If it weren't so tragic, the headline Supporters and Critics of Annan See Crisis in Syria as a Threat to His Legacy would be hilarious. Look at how his career is summarized:
His diplomatic successes included the effort to repatriate hundreds of international staff and citizens of Western countries from Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. From 1995 to 1996, as under secretary for peacekeeping, he oversaw a difficult transition of that responsibility in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the United Nations to NATO. He is considered responsible for defusing a number of conflicts in Africa, notably a 2008 agreement that halted a civil war in Kenya.
But Mr. Annan also is known for having weathered some spectacular lapses. He led the United Nations peacekeeping operation when it failed to halt the Rwanda genocide in 1994 — for which he personally accepted some blame — and the Srebrenica massacre and the collapse of Somalia in 1995. The Darfur genocide in Sudan, which began in 2003, occurred on his watch as secretary general.
His career as secretary general was also marred by a corruption investigation into an oil-for-food program in Iraq administered by the United Nations. Although a panel of inquiry found that Mr. Annan had not influenced the awarding of a contract to the company that employed his son, Kojo, it criticized him for not looking more aggressively into that company’s United Nations ties.
"[D]iplomatic successes" on one hand; "spectacular lapses" on the other. Other would call those lapses, "failures."
Instapundit preserved a few key paragraphs from an expose of Annan that appeared in London's Sunday Times in October, 2006:
Srebrenica is rarely mentioned nowadays in Annan’s offices on the 38th floor of the UN secretariat building in New York. He steps down in December after a decade as secretary-general. His retirement will be marked by plaudits. But behind the honorifics and the accolades lies a darker story: of incompetence, mismanagement and worse. Annan was the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) between March 1993 and December 1996. The Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 men and boys and the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda happened on his watch. In Bosnia and Rwanda, UN officials directed peacekeepers to stand back from the killing, their concern apparently to guard the UN’s status as a neutral observer. This was a shock to those who believed the UN was there to help them.
Annan’s term has also been marked by scandal: from the sexual abuse of women and children in the Congo by UN peacekeepers to the greatest financial scam in history, the UN-administered oil-for-food programme. Arguably, a trial of the UN would be more apt than a leaving party.
It's remarkable that Annan's failures as head of DPKO somehow qualified him to serve two terms as Secretary General. At the UN, apparently, nothing succeeds like failure.
The only way that his failure in Syria hurts his reputation is that the numbers of dead don't quite match the totals that his dereliction of duty caused in the 1990's. Yet.
Ehud Barak had a good line yesterday about Assad:
“I don’t think that Assad lost an hour of sleep last night because of those people leaving,” Mr. Barak said of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. “More concrete action is required,” he added. “These are crimes against humanity and it’s impossible that the international community is going to stand aside.”
2) Stupid headline of the day II
The threat to global health from the hunt for bin Laden by David Ignatius
As an intelligence operation, it must have seemed like pure genius: Recruit a Pakistani doctor to collect blood samples that could identify Osama bin Laden’s family, under cover of an ongoing vaccination program. But as an ethical matter, it was something else.
The CIA’s vaccination gambit put at risk something very precious — the integrity of public health programs in Pakistan and around the globe. It also added to the dangers facing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in a world that’s increasingly hostile to U.S. aid organizations.
I might be sympathetic to this argument if the countries where American NGO's were endangered weren't actively spreading hatred of America and helping America's enemies. There are plenty of imagined conspiracy theories out there alleging America's evil intent. This is simply an effort to obscure Pakistan's role as America's enemy.
3) The tunnels of Gaza
A new New York Times correspondent tells of her tour of a tunnel going into Gaza:
As I stepped onto three wobbly bricks leading into the tunnel, the first thing I heard was “Watch your head.” This phrase would be repeated many times during the 1,000-foot walk to the Gaza side. After about the 10th warning, I yelled up the tunnel, “I’m much more worried about being bombed than grazing my head!” My guide, who, like the others I spoke with here, refused to give his name for fear of the authorities, guffawed. It took him half a minute to recover from the “ridiculousness” of my concern.
“This is our life,” said one of the workers, his face iced in a layer of white dust. “Life is expensive, and Rafah is even more high-priced than Cairo. So we are forced to work and live underground.”
Despite her regularly expressed fear of being bombed, according to an earlier account from the Times, there is evidence, that Israel knew which tunnels aren't used for munitions:
But with the Israeli bombing, and, unspoken, the heavy Egyptian police and military presence that the crisis has meant for the town, the tunnel trade has stopped for now, the residents said. “Nothing is going in now,” said Nader Sayed, 28. “It’s impossible now.”
Hamas, the residents said, controls other tunnels, conduits for guns, cement, explosives and fertilizers for explosives.
Muhammad al-Zarb said that the Israelis somehow seemed to know which tunnels were commercial and which were run by Hamas, and that they seemed to be selective in their bombing. “If someone has a tunnel for Chipsy, it seems O.K.,” he said. “When a Hamas guy has a tunnel for weapons, they bomb it.”
When Ruqaya Izzidien is not minimizing the threats posed by radical Islam, or decrying European Islamophobia, for the English website of the Muslim Brotherhood, blogging for the extreme anti-Israel site Mondoweiss, or contributing to Al Jazeera, she serves as the UK correspondent for Bikyamasr, an online magazine which focuses on “Egypt and the region” – a site which has, on the sidebar of their home page , a “resistance to occupation” video …
4) Oh! To be a ZOG!
There have been many different explanations given over the past 10 years for the strength of the American-Israeli relationship, ranging from the idea that Israel has the best and most immediately deployable army in the Middle East, to the idea that a small cabal of wealthy and influential Jews has hijacked American foreign policy.
You mean the Z.O.G.? The Zionist Occupied Government?
Personally, from an emotional point of view, myself, as me, I prefer the Z.O.G. explanation above all others. I love the idea that the Zionists have sufficient power to actually occupy America, and through America to basically run the world. I love the idea of being a member of a secretive and powerful cabal. If you put my name Luttwak together with Perle and Wolfowitz and you search the Internet, you will get this little list of people who run the American government and the world, and I’m on it. I love that.