Regime Change at the United Nations?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Dec. 29, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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MIKE GALLAGHER, GUEST HOST: After a year of sex scandals, money scandals and staff revolts, our next guest has a New Year's resolution for the United Nations: Regime change. Joining us now is columnist Claudia Rosett.

Claudia, good evening. Welcome to "Hannity & Colmes."

CLAUDIA ROSETT, COLUMNIST: Good evening. Nice to be here.

GALLAGHER: I love this — I love regime change for the U.N. Tell us something, is Kofi Annan (search) — is he corrupt, is he incompetent, or both?

ROSETT: Well, he has got to be one or the other. That's the problem. And whether it's a mix of the two or just one, or just the other, is what I hope we will find out in this coming year.

But you have at this point a situation at the U.N. where, along with the massive oil-for-food (search) scandal — and it is massive — which he was — the program he ran, that was on his watch, he was in charge of it. Either, if he didn't know, he was not competent. There's no way he could have missed the scale of the problems here.

If he was— if he did know and he didn't speak up, this isn't someone you want running an outfit of any great importance on the world scale. And then there are further alternatives that get even worse.


ROSETT: But the bigger picture here is it's not simply about Kofi Annan. This is a system where, at this point, I think what the past year has demonstrated, you know, between the oil-for-food scandal, the peacekeeping sex in the Congo scandals, the internal scandals, the harassment of whistleblowers, the problems they have had with their own staff union condemning, quote, "senior management." It just goes on and on. And it is just all symptomatic of a system that needs to change radically at the core.

GALLAGHER: It's just unthinkable. It's incredible that this guy is still there. And I know the cries for his stepping down are getting louder. And yet he has some very powerful defenders. We had a guest here at “Hannity & Colmes” the other night, a former ambassador, who said, "Oh, he is doing a fine job. He is not really the problem." I mean, how do you account for these supporters of this guy?

ROSETT: Oh, many people benefit from the U.N., but I'm speaking of many people close to the U.N., many people who worked with programs there, have been involved with the U.N. There is a whole circle that does very well out of the U.N. It's a comfortable, nicely funded place.


ROSETT: Very cozy, too cozy. It's a secret society, basically. And if you're a member, it's a nice place to be.

But the bigger picture — let me go again. It's not Kofi Annan, per se, that I'm talking about. It's that we have created — a system was created at the end of World War II, the United Nations. It sounded great. It was another of those utopian dreams that, at this point, has turned into actually a dangerous secret society.

COLMES: Hey, Claudia. It's Alan. Welcome back to the show.

You know, look, they should be investigating this. And if Kofi Annan is culpable, then clearly there should be a change of leadership. That's not yet been determined. N country, including the United States, has yet asked for his resignation. So I guess the United States is still on board with Kofi Annan and still supports him, right?

ROSETT: You know, I'll tell you—the U.S. needs to do a big rethink, not simply about whether we should be supporting Kofi Annan, but what exactly it is we're supporting in dealing with the United Nations at all.

COLMES: You really want out of the U.N., don't you?

ROSETT: It's not necessarily out of the U.N. It's that we need — let's take an analogy: Look at what's going in the Ukraine right now. You had this ossified, corrupt dictatorship. You had an opposition step up to the plate that said, "This system must change. The system has to change."

In other words, the secrecy that lets the corruption go on, that lets programs become incredible violations and abuses of what they are supposed to be, that needs to change.

COLMES: Well let me ask you this: Should Donald Rumsfeld (search) resign because of the abuses of Abu Ghraib (search) that happened under his watch? Should Dick Cheney (search) resign because of secret meetings that he had with Enron, which we know was corrupt, and they helped formulate energy policy? So should they — if we're going to use that model, should there be those resignations in our country?

ROSETT: I think it depends on precisely what was designed by the person who's in charge, what was known, what was tolerated at what point. My understanding is that Abu Ghraib was something that was brought fairly quickly to the attention of the top men...

COLMES: And who took the hit for it? Who resigned? Did anybody in charge actually lose their job over it?

ROSETT: OK, you know what? That's a debate for another show. Let's talk about the U.N. — wait, wait...

COLMES: No, I just want to apply the same standards across the board.

ROSETT: ... no, no. OK, wait a second.

Well, but I'm not calling here — please don't mistake me. I actually haven't addressed the problem of whether Kofi Annan should resign. There are investigations going on. We'll see. The larger issue I'm trying to frame here is, this is an institution that breeds corruption. That's what has to change.

GALLAGHER: Right. Claudia Rosett, you keep holding the U.N.'s feet to the fire. We're glad you joined us tonight on here on "Hannity & Colmes."

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