Re “The U.N. Deserves an Apology,” Commentary, Nov. 2: Robert Scheer points mostly to the United Nations of the past to argue for an apology to the U.N. of the present. When he does discuss the U.N. of the present, he fails to mention that it is basically a corrupt and ineffective organization.
Where was Scheer when reports from Paul Volcker on his investigation of the U.N.'s oil-for-food program and Charles Duelfer’s report to Congress came out? Does Scheer not realize that the Kofi Annan-led U.N. allowed Saddam Hussein to exploit the oil-for-food program to run a massive bribery operation?
With the help of such “trusted” allies as Russia and France, Hussein was able to skim billions from the program while Iraqi children suffered. Kickbacks went not only to Russian and French public officials but also to Benon Sevan, Annan’s right-hand man and the U.N. official who administered this program.
Meanwhile, the U.N. stood by while the genocide in Africa continued unabated. Sorry, Mr. Scheer, but the U.N. doesn’t deserve an apology. However, you are correct when you state that the “world needs a strong United Nations.” Unfortunately, the probability of that occurring is nil.
Scheer is correct that the world should honor the U.N.'s “blue helmets” who have died in peacekeeping operations, but to apologize to the U.N. for the errors and inactions that resulted in ethnic cleansing/genocide in Rwanda, now in Sudan, and gross failures to prevent the nuclear weapons programs of Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, India and Pakistan would be an act of deliberate political blindness.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has been the epitome of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, whether failing to know about Iraq’s nuclear program before the war or Libya’s program, revealed only after America’s regime-change actions in Iraq. Only because the U.S. massed 150,000 troops on Iraq’s border did Hussein allow the U.N. inspectors to return to Iraq.
Scheer should open his eyes and stop whining about and blaming the U.S. for the failure of the U.N. to fulfill its destiny. The failure lies in the U.N. itself.
E. Patrick Mosman
In quite correctly pointing out the U.N.'s many successes under extremely difficult conditions, the outstanding work of the U.N.'s specialized agencies should not be ignored. Its Development Program, High Commission for Refugees and Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization are but a few. The work of these bodies is frequently underfunded and receives little publicity. Yet they are, as much as the peacekeepers, essential parts of the fabric of the international community.
Old Chatham, N.Y.
The myopic Scheer fails to mention the oil-for-food scandal now being investigated. Scheer apparently has no problem with the revelation that billions in funds intended to buy food and medicine for Iraqi children were manipulated by the U.N., allowing Hussein to build another palace or two; or to pay off France, Germany and Russia to ignore Security Council Resolution 1441, demanding that Hussein come clean on his weapons programs.
William H. Smith
The people of Rwanda and Sudan deserve an apology. The U.N. was dispatched to these countries to stop genocide, but ended up watching genocide. Annan himself has referred to the U.N.'s inaction in Rwanda as “criminal.” It is time for the U.N. to apologize to the hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed in its wake.
No apologies, the United Nations needs reform, urgently. What kind of moral authority can a body like the U.N. have when the majority of member states are dictatorships that deny their people basic human rights and deny them rights of assembly or self-governance?
The only times the U.N. has ever intervened to stop conquest, civil war or genocide have been when the U.S. has shouldered the burden to take action using the “cover” of U.N. approval.
Apology? The U.N. has become another League of Nations -- time to reboot.
James A. Gorton
Thank you, Robert Scheer, for your support of the U.N., which is the only place in the world where all the nations can coordinate efforts for peace and economic and social development. We’re all in the same boat.
Mary Wade Hrachovec
Please give Scheer some time off. It is apparent that he suffers from overwork, as his column concerning the U.N. could have been written only by an exhausted fellow -- or a fool.
This U.N. has become another League of Nations, and as an ongoing investigation will show, it is being managed by one of the major oil-for-food crooks, with his son giving him lots of assistance. Texas has it right -- force the U.N. to revert to the task it was originally given, or remove our nation from the place. New York City would be pleased with all those parking places.
Virginia Beach, Va.