President Bush's choice for Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, caught sanctimonius hell from Democrats in his congressional appointment hearings for not taking the U.N. seriously enough. But recent reports from two U.N. agencies don't make it any easier.
After the devastating accounts of U.N. mismanagement of the "Oil for Food Program," from both the U.N.'s own internal report under Paul Volcker and the enterprising work of journalists like Claudia Rosett and Benny Avni, one might expect the U.N. to have a little sensitivity to its own vulnerability in this area. After all, these reports showed Secretary General Kofi Annan's son, Kojo, lining his pockets as well as U.N. Undersecretary General, Benon Savan, presumably at the expense of the welfare of the children of Iraq the funds were intended to feed during the U.N.-approved trade embargo of Saddam Hussein. And now more U.N. officials appear to be involved as well.
But the U.K.'s Guardian notes, "A report to the U.N. human rights commission in Geneva has concluded that Iraqi children were actually better off under Saddam Hussein than they are now.... Under Saddam, about 4% of children under five were going hungry, whereas by the end of last year almost 8% were suffering." So, in case anyone was under the misimpression that the diversion of Oil for Food funds under U.N. management might have somehow shortchanged the Iraqi children, the good news is things were 100% better for them under Saddam with the U.N. program than they are under the United States liberation of Iraq.
That certainly puts the Oil for Food scandal in perspective, doesn't it? And what more objective source than a U.N. agency like the Human Rights Commission? Of course the HRC has primarily distinguished itself for the last several years by its tireless defense of Islamofascism wherever it may occur and trashing Israel and American policies at every opportunity. Ironically, the principal beneficiary of this report, Kofi Annan, proposed disbanding the commission last month and replacing it. An independent panel appointed by the U.N. reported in December that "The commission cannot be credible if it is seen to be maintaining double standards in addressing human rights concerns." What better example of a doubling standard than increasing the nourishment of Iraqi children under Saddam by 100% over the present?
The writer who carries this dire tale with a straight face is none other than Terry Jones: "... film director, actor and Python." So is this some marvelously Monty Pythonesque spoof from the Daily Onion? Apparently not. His editor at the Guardian, Albert Scardino, one of those responsible for the UK letter writing program that desperately tried to persuade thousands in the battleground state of Ohio to vote for John Kerry last fall, suffers from an increasingly common form of Euro-dysbarism, or "rapture of the deep." Shallow American thinkers like John Bolton rarely experience it. As George Orwell put it: "One would have to be an intellectual to believe something like that."
Meanwhile, from the Bologna International Children's Book Fair comes a breathless press release that the U.N. has introduced a brand new video game for kids all over the world. The United Nations World Food Program "Launches 'Food Force' -- The First 'Humanitarian' Video Game.... A plane circles over a crisis zone. War. Drought. People are hungry. The aircraft goes into a steep climb before launching its first airdrop of food aid. A truck struggles up a muddy, treacherous road, and rebels loom. People are anxious, waiting and food is scarce." Sounds sort of like tsunami-struck Southeast Asia last December, doesn't it? So now we know why the U.N. was such an insignificant presence it took four weeks to show up for the relief effort in Banda Aceh. Everyone was busy designing a nifty new children's game. Maybe if they play it long enough, they might learn how to actually do something.
For the present, New York Sun columnist Alicia Colon had the best suggestion occasioned by New York's double dilemma of how to site a new sports stadium in Manhattan and how to rehabilitate the U.N.'s headquarters -- move the U.N. out of New York and site the new stadium at Turtle Bay. The U.N. already has a Foggy Bottom of its own in a fog bank full of U.N. agencies just north across the Danube from Vienna. Let it relocate in the Unopolis there and leave Americans with games they at least enjoy.