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Posted: 9/16/2004 3:29:16 AM EDT
Choice of words matters

By Paul Reynolds
BBC News Online world affairs correspondent

The use of a single word in diplomacy can often mark a significant moment and the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's use of the word "illegal" about the war in Iraq is one such moment.

He has carefully avoided the word before.

His previous phrasing was to say that the war was "not in conformity with the UN Charter".

Mr Annan tends to avoid directness

This was a typical diplomatic phrase designed to get over the meaning, but to avoid directness. It was not exactly a ringing phrase and Mr Annan was content with that.

Now, in a BBC interview, he has been pressed into using the word "illegal" and that is the word which will now be used everywhere to describe his position.

He has not changed his position. But his language has changed and that counts.

It is worth noting that he still hedged the word round with references to the UN Charter, but that will be largely ignored.

Diplomacy does not often like directness. Mr Annan is a diplomatic sort of diplomat.

I've indicated that [the Iraq war] was not in conformity with the UN Charter. From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal

The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones cleverly forced Mr Annan's hand, just as a good lawyer will do to a witness in court. This is the exchange:

BBC: "So you don't think there was legal authority for the war."

Mr Annan: "I have made it clear, I have stated clearly, that it was not in conformity with the UN Charter."

BBC: "It was illegal."

Mr Annan: "Yes, if you wish."

BBC: "It was illegal."

Mr Annan: "Yes, I've indicated that it was not in conformity with the UN Charter. From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal."

The actual word was wrested from him as the final thing he said.

He probably did not intend to say it, but found that he could not avoid it.


So why does he think it illegal?

In the interview, he remarked that Resolution 1441, passed on 8 November 2002, warned Iraq that there would be "serious consequences" if it did not comply with UN demands over its suspected weapons programmes.

Mr Annan said it should have been left to the UN Security Council, in a second resolution, to determine what those consequences were.

The United States and Britain argued they were carrying out the wishes of the Security Council and that their authority was based not just on Resolution 1441, but on previous UN resolutions.

The British Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, issued a public statement of his outline argument, though he did not publish, or even give the members of the cabinet, his detailed reasoning.

He said the original Resolution 678 from 1990, which allowed for "all necessary means" to end Iraq's occupation of Kuwait and "restore international peace and security" in the region, still applied.

It had been, he said, "revived" by Resolution 687 from 1991, which demanded that Iraq disarm. Since Resolution 1441 stated that Iraq was in breach of Resolution 687, the attorney general argued, there was authority to use force.

For opponents of the Iraq war, the use of the word "illegal" will confirm their arguments in a satisfactory way.

Supporters, including those who might not be wholly convinced by Lord Goldsmith's argument, might rely on the so-called Kosovo defence.

The war by Nato against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999 was not authorised by the UN either, but was viewed by its proponents as a legitimate intervention to protect civilians.

Words matter

US Secretary of State Colin Powell used the word "genocide" last week to describe what has been going on in Darfur. A finding of genocide requires action under the UN Genocide Convention of 1948.

The absence of words also matters.

Resolution 242 after the 1967 war in the Middle East famously requires the "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict".

There is no "the" in front of "territories" and its absence has meant Israel can claim to be in compliance as it has withdrawn from some of the territories.

Incidentally the French version says "des territoires" which does mean "from the territories" but this text is usually forgotten.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:34:34 AM EDT
Fuck illegal. America doesn't need a permission slip from some African warlord in order to protect itself.

Go pound shit Kofi.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:35:31 AM EDT
Fuck Kofi and his conspiring little family too.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:36:02 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:36:14 AM EDT
Well then, Mr Kocksuckee Anon likes "I" words eh....here's an "I" word I use whenever speaking about the United Nations...........Irrelevant.

I should think that after all the investigation into the "Oil For Food" program is complete....my "I" word will be more descriptive and accurate than his.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:44:21 AM EDT
do really expect anything else from the UN????

What a bunch of pussies

Get the U.S out of the UN and get the UN the FUCK out of the Country
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:48:45 AM EDT
and we're supposed to care what he thinks why?

Screw him!

Interesting to note though that in this apparently "illegal" war, the good ole UN hasn't actually tried to press any charges though have they? Why? Because the only people who would enforce their bullshit is the US!
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:56:30 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:57:23 AM EDT
This crap from the UN just makes me laugh. Kofi Annan especially is a weaselly little African pimp who cares about nothing more than lining the pockets of himself and his family. I cannot wait for the full investifation into the food for oil scandal he personally oversaw.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 4:04:18 AM EDT
If you haven't figuared it out yet. The UN will be the new "world order". Their a bunch of pussy with each one serving "their" respective insterestes. Its like our congress, as F(*& as it is and all the speaical interests we have its 100 folder with the UN. They need to just go AWAY and find life else where. I'm thinking we should put them on a ship and send them in route to the sun.

I don't sound bitter do I?

Link Posted: 9/16/2004 4:05:48 AM EDT
The U.N. is going to implode if it doesn't get its act together...

and with that....


no biggie.

- BG
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 4:09:17 AM EDT
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 4:09:24 AM EDT
The UN can not make laws. The UN cannot enforce any of the non-existent laws it generates. Ergo, the UN cannot declare anything illegal. Cofi is just another African thug making a huge living for himslef and his family off the UN. Cofi is simply a black Gotti.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 4:09:59 AM EDT
Once again the question is posed:

Why in the f*ck are we still in the United Nations?

Why are we supporting them?

Why are we giving them a place from which to send out spies and attack us politically?

Get us out.

Link Posted: 9/16/2004 4:12:50 AM EDT
Amidst all the whining about how the US failed to include the UN in its dealings with Iraq, we find the UN operated there as we all knew it has operated the world over, as a bunch of crooks sucking blood out of us all. Kofi Annan has not been minding his store. He should be relieved of duty immediately.

The UN is UN-acceptable.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 4:20:36 AM EDT

Originally Posted By CAMPYBOB:
fuck that stupid bastard.

Link Posted: 9/16/2004 4:21:50 AM EDT
Kofi has gone to great lengths to avoid saying that the genocide that the jihadists are doing in Sudan is illegal. So his opinion is worth approximately nothing.
Tens of thousands of Africans dying every week, and this stupid little fuck isn't one of them?
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 7:00:31 AM EDT
What's the oil for food program ya'll mentioned?
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 7:05:05 AM EDT
He's just pissed his oil-for-food scam was broken up.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 7:11:12 AM EDT

Beautiful Picture!!!!!
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 7:14:28 AM EDT

Originally Posted By jadams951:
What's the oil for food program ya'll mentioned?

Probably the most under-reported story of the year. The UN imposed a sanction regime on Iraq that was ostensibly put in place to prevent giving Saddam hard cash in exchange for oil. The idea being, he would use that money for himself, his cronies, and illegal weapons at his peoples' expense who suffered under a strict UN sanctions regime. So the oil-for-food program would trade commodities the Iraqi people needed like food and medicine in exchange for oil, which the West wanted. Everybody but Saddam won. As it turns out, the opposite was true.

It was a complete fraud. The UN and companies owned by relatives and cronies of UN directors, INCLUDING KOFI ANNAN'S SON, provided commodities to Saddam at hugely inflated prices, or oil at severely discounted prices, however you want to look at it. Also, the commodities intended for Iraqis were of the lowest quality. Meanwhile, UN-approved companies had no problem supplying Saddam with anything he wanted to keep the loyalty of his cronies, such as luxury cars and massive quantities of liquor. I'm not sure how exactly, but the scheme also insured Saddam keep having hard cash flowing into his coffers.

So it was the typical UN program; not just ineffectual, but also corrupt and harmful. And it was the best thing that ever happened to the likes of Kofi Annan and other directors of the UN who had to settle for prestige and expense accounts as benefits of their jobs. Now they were getting filthy rich. Things were great, until that stupid cowboy decided to stop it with his illegal war.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 7:22:11 AM EDT
Damn, now I wish I hadn't voted for him.
Oh wait, thats right, he wasn't elected.
My bad.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 11:03:25 AM EDT
What an idiot, Resolution 678 (1990) authorizes the war in Iraq. It obligated Iraq to comply with Res. 660 and all subsequent Resolutions including 1440; 678 states "to use all necessary means to uphold resolution 660 and all subsequent relevant resolutions to restore international peace and security to the area".

By this token if we feel Syria is a threat to security in the region we can take them out according to Res. 678.

Geezzzz, this is all right on the UN web site, I wonder if Kofi realizes people actually read the resolutions he signs?
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 11:19:15 AM EDT
After his term in the UN, he will back in Africa soliciting the male [if you can call them that] french soldiers [if you can call them that] stationed there...

"Me love you long time. Me sucky sucky! Call me sucky sucky kofi".

Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:01:13 PM EDT
Can somebody, ANYBODY, please tell me why we are still hosting the UN and why we are even still IN the UN?
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:02:42 PM EDT
American citizen thelastboyscout says "Kofi Annan can go fuck himself with a rusty bayonet"
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:03:33 PM EDT
Who gives a fuck what annan says? This man has had 3 full blown genocides occour during his watch...
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:06:06 PM EDT
How is the Secretary-General of the UN selected, by the way?
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:06:10 PM EDT
Don't forget the food for sex program in the Congo. UN soldiers were bringing food into refugee camps in exchange for sex. Yes the UN is the model for world government. The US should be a proud to be a member.
Link Posted: 9/16/2004 3:12:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ar50troll:
Who gives a fuck what annan says?

I'll give that a big 'ol +1
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