Skip to comments.Republicans attack UN over poor record on disaster relief
Posted on 01/02/2005 5:07:44 AM PST by flitton
A close political ally of President George W Bush has launched a fierce attack on the United Nations' ability to handle the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, declaring that some of its agencies had "terrible, terrible records in dealing with people in need".
David Frum, a prominent Republican and former speech writer to Mr Bush, said America's reluctance to allow the UN too free a hand in the relief operation, was based on its poor management record.
"We are not arguing about money, we are arguing about control," he said on BBC Radio 4's Today programe. "It is humane and necessary that the United States and other democracies should be very careful about what happens to their money."
He made his comments hours after Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, denied that Washington was trying to edge out the UN as leader of the international relief effort in the Indian Ocean by forming a core group of nations to organise aid.
After a visit to UN headquarters in New York, Mr Powell said: "In due course we hope the core group will work itself out of business because we will have brought all of the international organisations into play, under the overall supervision and leadership of the United Nations."
In a criticism of the slow pace of UN bureaucracy, Mr Powell said that the countries involved in the group, which includes Australia, India and Japan, had assets which could be "brought to bear right away".
UN officials went to great lengths to conceal the whereabouts of Kofi Annan, the organisation's general secretary, who was on holiday when the tsunami struck and did not surface in New York until Thursday.
In fact, it was revealled that, Mr Annan spent Christmas at the holiday home of James Wolfensohn, the president of the World Bank and a critic of the Bush administration, who owns a 160-acre ranch in the resort of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Only a handful of Mr Annan's most trusted advisers were allowed to know his location. One official said: "He did not want to be seen frolicking in the snow. It wouldn't look good." So anxious were UN staff that his first interview, which was with the CNN cable news channel almost three days after the tsunami struck, was conducted by telephone, via the UN's headquarters, and producers of the show were not told where Mr Annan was speaking from.
Last week Washington officials were angered when Jan Egeland, one of the first UN officials to comment on the disaster, declared the initial US aid contribution of $35 million (£18 million) to be "stingy". On Friday the White House announced that the American donation would rise to $350 million.
In his first press conference of the week at UN headquarters on Thursday, Mr Annan insisted that his absence did not matter. "We live in a world where you can operate from wherever you are," he said.
World leaders including the prime ministers of Australia and Japan will gather in Jakarta at an emergency summit on Thursday.
The US is expected to send Mr Powell and Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida and brother of the president, who are beginning a tour of the region today.
Officials said the Florida governor, whom some believe may be positioning himself for an eventual run at the presidency, would draw on his experience of disaster relief following the series of hurricanes that battered his state in recent years.
The UN is the most corrupt organization in the world. Its HQ should be in Havana, Paris, Berlin or Pyongyang, but not in New York.
The UN should be UNestablished.
I beg to differ. It is in the money area that they are most UNtrustworthy and corrupt! You want to see the worst features of every third-world country in action? Just give the UN a big chunk of change and watch it head for Switzerland.
The UN is totally ill equipped to handle anything much less a Disaster. The UN doesnt even know the capabilities of the equipment needed to handle the emergency. They have no ships , planes ,helicopters, troops , yet they want to rush in and take charge? . The UN cant even get their building renovated , they are hardly ready for the Big time.
I can't argue with that.
Giving the UN control of the disaster relief would be like giving the city of Boston billions of tax dollars so they could build another tunnel.
A colleague came back from a meeting held by the local UN representative yesterday and reported that the UN rep had said that while it was a good thing that the Australians and Americans were running the air ops into tsunami-wrecked Aceh, for cultural and political reasons, those Australians and Americans really "should go blue." In other words, they should switch into UN uniforms and give up their national ones.
Now you all know that The Diplomad is not a cynical or suspicious being, but there is something funny going on here . . . what could it be? Could it be a genuine concern for local "cultural and political sensitivities" that would be offended by the presence of Aussies and Yanks in their own military uniforms saving thousands of lives? Maybe . . . or, might it not be an odd coincidence that just after the infamous Mr. Anan (see prior posts) says the UN will be setting up air traffic control in Aceh, the UN wants to show that it has an ATC system operating? What better way than to continue in the UN tradition of taking credit for others' work? And this just before Mr. Anan arrives in Indonesia on January 6.
Not YET..but it has happened before..
UN=lying, thieving weasels. Koffi and company should be kicked out asap. How much more proof do we need of corruption and graft? When all is said and done, the UN will blame the US every which way but up, and if you think Islamofascists and other enemies don't pay attention, think again. When the US fails to slap down the likes of Koffi and Egeland, we're seen as weak and invite not only verbal, but physical attack.
And it ain't coming from the U.N. The Associated Press reports on the arrival of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the cost of Aceh, Indonesia:
From dawn until sunset on New Year's Day, 12 Seahawk helicopters shuttled supplies and advance teams from offshore naval vessels while reconnaissance aircraft brought back stark images of wave-wrecked coastal landscapes and their hungry, traumatized inhabitants. The helicopters took off from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, staged in calm waters about three miles off the Indonesian province of Aceh along with four other vessels to launch the sprawling U.S. military operation.
More than a dozen other ships were en route to southern Asian waters, with the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault vessel carrying Marines, headed for Sri Lanka, which along with Indonesia was the worst-hit area. The mission involves thousands of sailors and Marines, along with some 1,000 land-based troops.
Thailand's Vietnam War-era air base of Utapao has become the airlift hub for the region. C-130 transport planes were already conducting sorties to Jakarta and the Sumatran cities of Medan and Banda Aceh, according to a statement Saturday by the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta.
U.S. Navy medical staff are also on the ground in Meulaboh, a decimated fishing village where several thousand bodies have been recovered. The Navy is considering a request from Jakarta to establish a field hospital there.
The Lincoln's operations officer, Cmdr. Matthew J. Faletti, said the New Year's Day effort off Sumatra was focused on ferrying emergency relief, including biscuits, energy drinks and instant noodles, to communities along the 120-mile stretch of seacoast south of the city of Banda Aceh.
U.S. military medical and damage assessment teams were also landed with helicopters flying in heavy winds, rain and low clouds. Supplies had to be dropped from craft hovering over some water-logged areas where landing proved impossible.
Officers said information was being gathered on how best American resources could be used including the skills of machinists, masons, carpenters, divers and general laborers among the more than 6,000 crew members on the giant carrier.
"Everyone is champing at the bit to go out and help," said Vorce. "Today wasn't about a paycheck."
Memo to those who criticized President Bush for being too slow to "respond" to the humanitarian crisis by giving a press conference: a press conference is not a "response;" what the USS Abraham Lincoln and the Bonhomme Richard were ordered to do--that's a response.
And it began while Kofi was still on the slopes.
The ordinary people need to see Westerners in our own uniforms as the source of relief NOT the FALSE idea of the UN actually doing something useful.The UN is nothing but a tool of the petty tyrants and socialists and ought to be disbanded.
Exactly my sentiments. And furthermore........ Kofi Annan's skiing trip to the affluent ski resort called Jacksons Hole, Wyoming was kept hush hush because he didn't want to look like a rich capitalist to the poor nations he claims he represents by "knowing their pain".
UN= United Nothings UN= Ungrateful Nobodys
By limiting American and other western identity and exposure the UN can indeed take credit for the aid. Further a slap in the face to the nations that financially support most of the uN operations. How long will we continue to throw money into a corrupt UN?
I think we are doing the right thing by making our presence known and showing our ability to move while the UN shows it is totally UN-prepared and UN-co-ordinated to handle anything but the smallest disaster.
And where was the UN when Florida was hit by the hurricanes? They stayed home because they knew they couldn't run the show, but continued to criticize Americans for not "doing enough".
Kofi....while skiing...why didn't you support the reforestation effort in America by personally meeting a tree??? hehehe
Our people in uniform are the "good guys." God Bless them all.
another good discussion on the UN.
"As far as the Aussies going blue, it isn't going to happen." We LOVE you spunky Aussies.
I think a lot of people have forgotten this article....
I cannot quibble with the content of Frum's opinion, but I do wonder how he came to be the "Voice of Republicans" on this issue. Valid though his view may be, he does not speak for the RNC or the Bush administration.
The Toyota Talibanby Joe Katzman at January 2, 2005 05:12 AM
I've often seen the term "Toyota Taliban" used to refer to non-governmental 'aid' agencies and U.N. bureaucrats. I've even used it myself on occasion. What does it mean, and where does it come from? Here's an excerpt from U.N. Insider's June 04 summary:
In a letter from Kabul, British satirical biweekly Private Eye reported on the private life of international community members in the Afghan capital. It claims that only 16% of the $4.5 billion pledged at the Tokyo conference goes to the government; the rest in the hands of NGO; a term used to refer to "the well heeled" international staff of the U.N. and aid organizations who reportedly spend time shopping for wide screen tvs and laptops at a new Sony Centre. "Most other shopkeepers only ever glimpse them as they are driven past in one of the $75,000 Toyota Landcruisers most of them owned by the U.N. -- known here as the Toyota Taliban," the letter says, adding that the cruisers ferried them from office to restaurant to guest house. It continues: "There's a swimming pool at a central U.N. compound and regular parties and barbecues. Memories of a party held by the DHL courier group last November, when an opium pipe was passed around by U.N. staff, are still fresh. If boredom strikes, aid workers might also sign up for Tai Chi and Argentinean tango lessons."
Additional on-the-scene reports from Instapundit's Afghanistan correspondent Professor John Robert Kelly of Boston University, Congressional Chief of Staff Joseph Eule, and a Roger L. Simon commenter with 18 years experience in Afghanistan add further depth to the picture, in both positive and negative ways. This excerpt from John's comment is especially instructive:
"My experience with the UN over the past 18 years is in Afghanistan. Here's what I've seen since 9/11...sorry for the garritous length.
....An enormous and highly profitable international aid apparatus has assembled in Kabul and has largely ignored the input of the Afghan people or their largely American liberators; the latter stand by in disbelief as taxpayers contributions to Afghanistan disappear into outfitting the extravagant needs of European aid community. The UN pays $400 a day (more than a years pay for an average Afghan ) plus a generous per diem. This enormous aid infestation has fostered rightful resentment. The UN and associated NGOs ran through years of aid funding in a matter of months. Now when money cannot be found for reconstruction, the UN issues reports criticizing the parsimonious Americans. Meanwhile, the UN and NGOs live like pashas. Hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for Afghans have been transformed into fleets of top-of the-line Toyota Landcruisers, villas and estates to house their workers complete with swimming pools, an endless supply of underpaid servants, luxurious furnishings (accented with looted antiquities,) the latest laptops, video equipment, cases of Johnny Walker Blue and the bling bling ...perks that might even seem excessive to Ken Lay are justifiable expenses charged off to the US. No accountability, no oversight. They dont bother cooking the books, they dont even keep the books!
Afghan citizens fear that vocal objections to this patronizing treatment will result in economic reprisals by the UN...."
Amazingly, the story gets worse as one continues. To say that John is upset about all this is a massive understatement.
Perhaps this should not be surprising with respect to the U.N., whose makeup and structure nearly guarantees this sort of behaviour. What is clear, however, is that non-governmental NGO "do-gooders" and international bodies deserve closer scrutiny than they usually receive, and require rigorous accountability mechanisms that include the threat of public exposure.