I can’t tell you the precise content of the UN Secretary-General’s October 31 letter to the American President, the British Prime Minister, and the Iraqi Interim Prime Minister, addressing the American-led assault on the besieged city of Fallujah. (Though in the ideological literature, this assault is being carried out not by American, but by “multinational” forces. An innovation the world owes to UN Security Council Res. 1546. A landmark of historical revisionism. And every Super Predator State’s dream.)
The Reuters news agency claims to have obtained a copy of Kofi Annan’s letter. But Reuters has yet to publish the text. They should, however. Without delay.
But from what little Reuters has published of the letter, and from the Secretary-General’s performance—indeed, the post-“Mission Accomplished” Security Council’s too—with respect to American occupied Iraq these past 18 months, I think I can hazard a reasonable guess as to what it says.
Thus, Reuters reports that (“Annan warns Falluja assault could spoil elections,” Nov. 5):
In his letters, Annan said the elections, less than three months away, were “the keystone in a broader process to restore stability and legitimacy in Iraq.”
“This is the moment for redoubling efforts to break the cycle of violence and open a new chapter of inclusiveness and national reconciliation,” he said.
“The threat or actual use of force not only risks deepening the sense of alienation of certain communities, but would also reinforce perceptions among the Iraqi population of a continued military occupation,” Annan said.
This is pathetic material, to say the least. Notice what the use of force (forget about its mere “threat”) by the Americans is said to threaten: Not Iraqi life and limb—already having approached the 100,000 mark under American arms, according to the “conservative” estimate of the research team whose work was posted to The Lancet‘s webpage on October 29. Not the infrastructure of material life within Fallujah, also long under siege and facing systematic destruction. And certainly not the freedom of movement of the American (and British) political leadership from whose high offices this present round of contemporary barbarism proceeds unrelentingly, like rubble sliding downhill, with no bottom in sight. (My point being that the senior-most American and British political leadership knows they can order their forces to kill Iraqis with absolute impunity, the spread of civilization and the rule of law having been kept far from their shores. And not likely to dock any day soon.)
But only the sense of alienation of certain communities within Iraq. Only their perception that something is amiss. Only the chance to stage what must be described as a yet another round of demonstration elections with the United Nations’ help, the round staged last month in Afghanistan now officially under the UN’s belt. Staging demonstration elections having become one of the UN’s newest millennium goals, it would appear. Provided the Americans first invade a country or simply sponsor the overthrow of its government from afar.
Briefing reporters Friday, the Secretary-General added two more pieces to the puzzle (“Press Encounter with the Secretary-General outside Room S-226 in the UN Secretariat Building,” Nov. 5):
Q: What kind of a threat could a military offensive create for the elections?
SG: I think I have indicated that we need to try and make the process as inclusive as possible. Obviously there are situations, moments where force needs to be used, but it is not—force alone, I don’t think, is enough. It is a process. One also has to try, as I have said before, to win the hearts and minds of the people and to draw them in, so that at the end of the process, at the end of the elections, it is their product and people who have been involved and feel included will be inclined to accept the results rather than have certain groups questioning themselves.
This response is appalling. Remember: Kofi Annan is on the record calling the American war over Iraq “illegal” and “not in conformity with the UN Charter“—milquetoast comments, to be sure, but (a) this is Kofi Annan, and (b) he was referring to the Americans after all, not the Government in Khartoum or some similarly demonized government lacking the resources to fight back. When Annan told the reporters Friday that “there are situations, moments where force needs to be used,” what on earth could he possibly have been thinking? Could he have been thinking of situations in which one Member State threatens or uses force against another Member State, in clear violation of the UN Charter? Or was he thinking of the “extremists” he mentioned earlier in the same press briefing, those Iraqis “whom one can never get into the process,” namely, the demonstration election process tentatively scheduled for late January?
“And on your question about Iraq,” Annan had told the reporters only moments before,
let me say that we have a mandate from the Security Council, and the United Nations is determined to do whatever it can to assist the Iraqi people, the circumstances permitting. The elections is part of a broader context—it’s part of a political process which we hope will be as inclusive as possible and pull in all Iraqis. Of course there are some extremists whom one can never get into the process, but the more inclusive the process, the greater the possibility that it will succeed and the results of the elections will be productive. So we are there to assist and advise on the elections, but we also operate in a context and I think this is important.
Again, appalling is too kind a word. The bloody facts of the by-now-multiple-updates flooding the daily wire services and 24-hour-news channels about the scale of the killing the American forces have unleashed upon Fallujah and other cities in the same region are so incommensurate with what the Secretary-General can ever seem to put into words these days that the man’s integrity ceased to be defendable a long time ago. I mean, look. Here we have a case in which the world’s pre-eminent killing machine has been gearing up to roast Fallujah for weeks (and maybe all the way back to late March, when the four Blackwater USA mercenaries were dealt with so ignominiously there), pledging openly in its daily news briefings to lay waste to Fallujah—and what is the Secretary-General’s message to the world? That the problem is “some extremists whom one can never get into the process“? Indeed, with Fallujah on the verge of this great assault, that there are “moments where force needs to be used“?
And this, from the Secretary-General of…….But of what? Ultimately, what is Kofi Annan the Secretary-General of? The answer is too obvious to even bother with it, I’m afraid. Nevertheless. With respect to Iraq, Kofi Annan is the Secretary-General of the UN cloak with which the American mission there likes to cover itself. What Kofi Annan is not the Secretary-General of is a United Nations, except insofar as the Americans like the way the UN fits their mission. The same goes for all of the UN organs and agencies and Special Representatives involved in Iraq—Ashraf Qazi and Carina Perelli and Kiernan Prendergast and however many of them you care to name.
The world—beginning most immediately with the people of Fallujah—faces the crisis that it does within Iraq today not because some “extremists” don’t want to get with the American program there. But because an extremist state rejected the “process” (inasmuch as there ever was one) and invaded Iraq.
Postscript. Anyone interested in seeing firsthand how closely aligned with American Power the UN Secretary-General is—and remember: here I don’t just mean Kofi Annan himself, but the whole public face of the General-Secretariat, of which Annan’s is but the most public face—take a quick look at the official Statements webpage of the Secretary-General.
On the Statements webpage there is a link to Statements about Iraq. Right now (I’m accessing this webpage on Saturday, Nov. 6), there is a pull-quote featured at the very top and center of the Secretary-General’s Statements about Iraq webpage which reads:
“For the moment, we believe we are on track and if things go well and everyone does what they are supposed to do, and the environment holds, we should be able to have the elections.”
The date Annan made this statement? All the way back on October 19! (“Secretary-General’s press conference with UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (revised).”)
Evidently, nothing else as urgent has come up over the course of the past two-and-a-half weeks, but the staging of demonstration elections this coming January.
Meanwhile, Fallujah burns.
An Appeal from Fallujah to Kofi Anan and the UN, Kassim Abdullsattar al-Jumaily, President, Center for the Study of Human Rights and Democracy, Fallujah
“Secretary-General’s press conference with UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (revised),” Off The Cuff, October 19, 2004
“Press Encounter with the Secretary-General outside Room S-226 in the UN Secretariat Building,” Off The Cuff, November 5, 2004
“Annan says UN will do all it can to help Iraqis advance political process,” UN News Center, November 5, 2004
“Annan warns against attack on Falluja,” Mark Turner, Financial Times, November 6, 2004
“US ready for Falluja assault: Marines tell locals to evacuate city: EU must counter Bush says Chirac,” Ewen MacAskill, Michael Howard, David Gow, The Guardian, November 6, 2004
“Annan Defends Letter Warning of Fallouja Risk,” Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2004
“All Sides Prepare for American Attack on Falluja,” Dexter Filkins and James Glanz, New York Times, Noveber 6, 2004
“Annan’s Warning On Fallujah Dismissed,” Dafna Linzer, Washington Post, November 6, 2004
“Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey,” Les Roberts et al., The Lancet, posted online October 29, 2004
“Iraqi Civilian Deaths Increase Dramatically After Invasion,” Press Release, Center for International Emergency, Disaster, and Refugee Studies (accessed Nov. 6, 2004)
“100,000 Iraqis Dead: Should We Believe It?” Stephen Soldz, ZNet, November 5, 2004
“Fallujah and the Reality of War,” Rahul Mahajan, ZNet, November 6, 2004
Fallujah: Where the Professionals Train, ZNet Blogs (the old ones), April 2, 2004
Iraq, Civilian Fatalities, and American Power I, ZNet Blogs, August 15, 2004
How Many Deaths Are Too Many? ZNet Blogs, September 13, 2004
Iraq, Civilian Fatalities, and American Power II, ZNet Blogs, October 28, 2004
Iraq, Civilian Fatalities, and American Power III, ZNet Blogs, October 29, 2004
Iraq, Civilian Fatalities—and American Silence, ZNet Blogs, October 30, 2004
“How America Gets Away with Murder” III, ZNet Blogs, September 16, 2004
Not in Conformity with American Power, ZNet Blogs, September 17, 2004
Principals of World Order I, ZNet Blogs, September 25, 2004
Principals of World Order II, ZNet Blogs, October 6, 2004