The UNtouchables

Article excerpt

The UNtouchables The UN Exposed: How the United Nations Sabotages America's security and Fails the World by Eric Shawn (SENTINEL, 336 PAGES, $23.95)

THE UNITED NATIONS is an author's nightmare. On one hand, there's just too much to write about. It's almost impossible to keep up with the latest diplomatic and financial chicanery that are the daily products of the General Assembly, the security Council, and-of course-the secretary general. On the other, it's hard to write anything about the UN that hasn't been written before or to give life to the tiresome anti-Americanism that is the daily staple of the UN's General Assembly, the secretariat, and the French comic opera improperly named the "security Council." In overcoming these and many other obstacles, Fox News UN correspondent Eric Shawn has produced a most valuable book on an unsavory subject.

Kofi Annan's term expires at the end of this year, and he is working feverishly to divorce his legacy from the oil for Food scandal and re-create it by other means. Unlike Churchill, Annan can't expect history to be kind to him, because he won't get to write it. We don't have Churchill to kick Kofi's keister, but Shawn does quite well enough, exposing how the secretary general's cloistered life-in his multimillion dollar Sutton Place townhouse, in his palatial UN offices, and everywhere else he goes-consistently isolates him from real-world realities. Indeed, everything at the UN is devoid of reality, Shawn reports from his lonely vantage point. The UN Exposed is the sort of book that can only have been written by a reporter with a strong sense of his beatseeing, hearing, and above all smelling the rot that is the UN every day of the week.

What Shawn sees first is a press corps-members of the "UN Correspondents' Association" or UNCAso dedicated to ignoring the UN's scandals and failures that investigation and critical analysis are simply nonexistent. These are the dedicated servants of truth who still talk about an "alleged" oil for Food scandal, hacks whom one of Shawn's sources characterized as "enamored of the secretary General and the whole UN system. They are part of the culture. They have been there so long and believe in the [UN] system so much that they consider themselves international civil servants just merely reporting on the UN." Some of the UN reporters are in the pay of the UN itself, not all the time but on special projects. Enough, of course, to ensure that when they aren't, they still write favorably about the UN's activities. One shouldn't even wonder that the UNCA's journalism prizes are partly underwritten by Ted Turner's UN Foundation and George Soros's Open Society Institute. If only that were the worst of it.

It's impossible for anyone covering the UN (well, anyone not associated with the BBC, at least) not to conclude that France is the nation that most benefits from the UN. …