Annan says U.S. has lost its principles
NEW YORK — U.N. SecretaryGeneral Kofi Annan on Dec. 11 called for the United States to respectinternationalnorms,pointedly contrasting Bush administration policies in Iraq with the values that made America great.
In one of his last major speeches beforeleavingoffice,Mr.Annanalso warned that military measures and other steps in the war on terrorism were leaving U.S. allies “troubled and confused.”
Inwhatwaswidelyinterpretedas a criticism of the Bush administration’s policies, Mr. Annan said that success on the world stage is possible “only [. . . ] if America remains truetoitsprinciples,includinginthe struggle against terrorism.”
Mr.Annansaidafterhisspeechat theHarryTrumanPresidentialMuseumandLibraryinIndependence, Mo.,thathewasnotmeaningtocriticize the Bush administration, but simply to encourage it to do the things that have earned the nation respect in the past.
But the suggestion that the country has strayed from its own values was unmistakable.
“When it appears to abandon its ownidealsandobjectives,itsfriends abroad are naturally troubled and confused.Andstatesneedtoplayby therulestowardseachother,aswell as towards their own citizens,” he said in his speech.
“No state can make its own actions legitimate in the eyes of others. When power, especially military force,isused,theworldwillconsider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose — for broadly shared aims — inaccordancewithbroadlyaccepted norms.”
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack downplayed the criticism, saying it was normal for a U.N. chief to disagree with Washington on some issues.
“There’s no secretary-general of the United Nations that’s going to be inlockstepwiththeUnitedStatesor any other country with regard to its policies. It’s not that person’s job,” he said.
But retiring Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican and chairman of the House International Relations Committee, suggested Mr. Annan was simply trying to divert attention from the United Nations’ own management failures.
Mr.Annan’s“failuretoacceptany responsibility for a decade of U.N. scandals” is “both understandable and completely predictable,” said Mr. Hyde, whose committee extensively investigated the scandalplaguedU.N.oil-for-foodprogramin Iraq.
U.N. officials began touting the speechtoreportersoneweekearlier, aware of its potential impact in Washington.
Mr. Annan’s deputy, Mark Malloch Brown, incurred harsh criticism when he suggested earlier this year that the U.S. government was not doing enough to defend the organization against its critics.
In his speech, Mr. Annan urged the United States to apply its own founding principles in its international dealings.
“The U.S. has given the world an example of a democracy in which everyone, including the most powerful, is subject to legal restraint,” he said. “Its current moment of world supremacy gives it a priceless opportunity to entrench the same principles at the global level.”
He also cautioned the Bush administration to consider the global impact of their actions.
“Todaytheactionsofonestatecan often have a decisive effect on the lives of people in other states,” Mr. Annansaid.“Sodoesitnotowesome account to those other states and their citizens, as well as to its own? I believe it does.”
He added: “As things stand, accountability between states is highly skewed. Poor and weak states are easily held to account, because they need foreign assistance. But large and powerful states, whose actions have the greatest impact on others, can be constrained only by their own people, working through their domestic institutions.”
David R. Sands contributed to this report.
Parting shots: Outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the U.S. to stay true to its values on Dec. 11 at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Mo.