Poor Kofi – peace is elusive and very difficult to make

The United Nations is losing its special envoy to Syria; Kofi Annan is resigning.  He had two major reasons for his decision; think of his reasons as complaints, excuses or facts as you will.  Neither Syria or the opposition forces seem to be interested in negotiating anything except the other’s death.  And secondly, or maybe this is the first and most important reason, because of the disagreement, animosity and finger pointing that characterizes the United Nations Security Council.  Everyone is disappointed – well, maybe not everyone; Assad is probably not disappointed, nor is Iran, China or Russia likely to be disappointed.  And maybe we are not either, not until Assad’s government falls – it would be terribly messy and annoying if the fighting stopped and Assad was still president and in control, wouldn’t it?

The Russian ambassador to the United Nations immediately said, if the United States and Europe would quit providing weapons to the opposition they might be willing to negotiate.  But then haven’t we said all along that if Iran, China and Russia would quit supporting Assad he would be willing to negotiate?  Ah, the finger pointing, a noble sport.  I wonder why it had never risen to the level of an Olympic sport?  It has been an established sport for a hundred years, since the original international organization of states, the League of Nations, was formed to prevent further wars in the aftermath of the first world war.  The very nature of the Security Council’s procedure has allowed for finger pointing and of course vetoes.  If one of the major powers fails to agree with a motion, it vetoes it.  Given the political divisions of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century, a veto is a foregone conclusion.  That veto empowers the combatants – in every fight there are two sides, one is certain to be supported by the United States and its allies and the other is certain to be supported by Russia, China and their allies.

Special envoys come and special envoys go – and in the Middle East they all accomplish the same thing – nothing.  Do you remember General James Jones, Robert Strauss, Tony Blair, James Wolfensohn, David Hale, General Anthony Zinni and George Mitchell?  They, like Kofi have all been to the Middle East on missions of peace; and like Kofi they all left the Middle East as peace-less as they found it.  It is very difficult, if not impossible, to negotiate peace between two parties that do not wish to have peace, except of course on their own terms.  And it is very difficult to exert enough extra pressure on those two parties to force a negotiation if the individual members of the international community do not wish to have peace, except of course on their own terms.  Kofi Annan did not fail the Syrians or the United Nations, the international community failed Kofi and the Syrians.


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August 2012
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