The call for Kofi Annan's resignation has gotten louder and louder as the conservative media flogs the overblown oil-for-food scandal. But should liberals be calling for Annan to go -- on wholly different grounds? Prospect senior correspondent Michael Steinberger argues the case against Annan, while Nation UN correspondent Ian Williams, author of The UN for Beginners, takes the defense.
This is the first of three parts. The second round will appear on Wednesday.
Hong Kong voters go to the polls September 12 to elect a new Legislative Council. LegCo, as it's known, symbolizes the “high degree” of autonomy that Hong Kong was promised when it reverted Chinese rule in 1997; with a record 30 of 60 seats to be filled this year by universal suffrage (the rest are chosen by some 200,000 voters representing various professional associations, most of which use their seats to do Beijing's bidding), a fairly toothless institution might finally acquire some bite. For that very reason, the Chinese government has waged an ominous campaign of intimidation to sway Sunday's outcome, a campaign that appears to have included vandalism, arson, and death threats.
Among conservative commentators, and in certain quasi-liberal circles, there's been lots of tut-tutting in recent weeks about John Kerry's foreign-policy instincts. What has these concerned citizen-pundits nervously stroking their chins is the suspicion that Kerry is a “realist” who has no particular interest in promoting democracy and human rights abroad. It may well be that the Democratic nominee is channeling Brent Scowcroft, but the evidence to date is pretty flimsy. Moreover, implicit in the grumbling about Kerry is the idea that George W. Bush's foreign policy has been suffused with noble intent. That simply isn't the case. Bush is no idealist; he just plays one on TV, and his blundering statecraft has, in fact, dealt a grievous blow to the idealist agenda.
The European Union formally welcomes 10 new members on Saturday, in the process extending its borders all the way to Russia's doorstep. It is a monumental triumph for the architects of European integration, and with agreement on a draft constitution for the EU now within reach, they could soon have even more reason to break out the champagne. Still, forward motion does not always denote progress.
The EU is being enlarged, but it remains an unaccountable and, in many ways, undemocratic institution. It's also an increasingly unpopular one. Amid wrenching social and economic changes, the rush toward a European super state may well be laying the groundwork for a nasty backlash.
In July 2003, President George W. Bush made a five-nation tour of Africa. The purpose of the visit was to cast American foreign policy in a gentler light after the diplomatic donnybrook over Iraq -- by, among other things, showcasing the Bush administration's seriousness about combating Africa's AIDS pandemic.