Monday, April 18, 2005


The U.N., and specifically its leader, Kofi Annan, have long been targets of the unilateralist boys on the right, who are not keen on having little impediments, such as the rule of law, get in the way of their war-mongering agenda. It is true that the U.N. is not a paragon of perfection, and the Oil For Food Program is in need of reform, but we note that the independent inquiry, lead by former Federal Reserve chair Paul Volcker, found no link between Mr. Annan and the Oil For Food problem. The Wall Street Journal states: "The panel has concluded there is no evidence Mr. Annan rigged. . .procurement. . .exerted undue influence. . .or ever sought or received improper financial benefits."

Even so, the attacks on the secretary-general by the Neo-Con right will probably continue, lead by propaganda hacks such as Judith Miller. Miller, you may recall, in a series of articles in the New York Times, assisted in propping up Bush's march to war in Iraq by repeating the lies about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda. Now, since late October, she's pumped out numerous articles attacking Kofi Annan, and even persisted in doing so, using snide innuendo, despite the Volcker finding that there was nothing untoward in his behavior.

Annan's real problems began back in September, when he went on record saying the U.S. led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that contravened the U.N. charter. At the same time that he made this statement to the BBC, he also said, "I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time, without U.N. approval and much broader support from the international community." This elicited vociferous attacks from the Bush Administration, and from then on, the campaign in the right-wing media to malign Annan's character really heated up.

With an invasion of Iran looming on the horizon, it seems likely we will hear again from the gentleman at the U.N.; at least we hope so. And, no doubt, the right's attack dogs will once more bare their teeth in his general direction.

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When the eyes are blind and the lips are silent, when the pain of poverty, of unemployment, of ill health, are blocked from our vision, then we, too, are diminished. Who will act for justice?

When anyone goes hungry, when anyone is cold, when anyone is without proper honor in the community, we have not the right to be silent. When people grow complacent in the face of the hunger of their sisters and brothers, there can be no peace. Such peace is but the harbinger of other wars.

There was a prophet who said, "Do justly and love mercy." This is our duty and our dignity. If we fail in justice and mercy, there is no hiding place, no homeland that will shelter us.

We are here today because we can see beyond the darkness of present reality. We are the inheritors of realistic hope. We affirm the oneness of humankind. The pain of those hungry, of those homeless is our responsibility. Hope is resilient and enduring.

We stand, not one upon another's shoulder, but arms entwined together, united, and ready to act for change. Hope is not housed in shallow vessels. It dwells in a deep and flaming chalice.

It is we who say: the people united will never be defeated. We pray today for all who struggle for better conditions for our neighbors and for ourselves. It is we who say: hope publicly expressed will nurture our actions for change. We commit ourselves to the struggle ahead.

--Litany for justice, from the 1984 U.N. Sunday Guide.


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