This week’s print version of the New Yorker includes an extensive article on U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which is not included in the online version. It contains some interesting observations on the future of the U.N. at this critical juncture. A few examples:

For Annan, the chief lesson of the past decade is that the U.N. must say no to impossible missions and insufficiently supported mandates.

Annan has even suggested that preemptive military action may be justified to avert the threat of a massive slaughter or a genocide [such as occurred in Rwanda in 1994].

The reliance on ad-hoc coalitions of national armies [in Kosovo, East Timor, Afghanistan and the Ivory Coast] to take on the missions that the U.N. is incapable of managing leaves the organization more dependent than ever on the will of its member states.

For the past three years, Annan has been unable to raise a force of even 7000 troops – the number that failed to hold Srebrenica – to beef up the U.N.’s miniscule peace-keeping mission in the Congo…where it is estimated that two to three million people have died since 1998 as a result of civil war and foreign occupation.
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