The Rosett Report

A Leitmotif Libya Doesn't Need: Kofi Annan

Just when you thought Libya was in trouble enough, here comes the self-described former “chief diplomat of the world,” Kofi Annan, with more of his trademark prescriptions for making a big mess even bigger.

For a while now, the former UN Secretary-General has been relatively quiet, or at least he has failed to insert himself much into the news. But now we have the Financial Times, in an article headlined “The Road to Redemption,” featuring coverage of Annan as he motorcades around Tanzania, opining lovingly on his own record at the UN, and offering views on the future. One of Annan’s views, detailed in another FT piece headlined “Kofi Annan hits at west over Libya,” is that it was a mistake for western leaders of the no-fly-zone coalition to call for Moammar Gaddafi to step down. In Annan’s opinion and signature lingo, this was “not very helpful” because, by antagonizing Gaddafi, it could complicate negotiations for a settlement, thus risking a “messy” stalemate.

Thanks to a murky UN resolution mandating protection of civilians, but not actually authorizing the defeat of Gaddafi, there’s already a very messy scene in Libya — where the conflict has now dragged on for three bloody months. One might have supposed that the real solution to the stalemate is not just to call for Gaddafi’s removal, but to do it.

But this is Annan’s trademark style, deferring to the preferences of thugs while trashing the West. The FT also reports that Annan is being courted by Gaddafi as a possible mediator in the Libyan conflict — and it’s easy to see why Gaddafi would favor such a fellow. This, after all, is the same Annan who said in 1998 that he could “do business” with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, and under Annan, the UN, to the great emolument of its own treasury and staff, certainly did. Perhaps it’s time the UN considered passing some rules forbidding secretaries-general — both current and former — from serving as de facto spokesmen and fixers for UN-sanctioned thugs.