There is an interview with Kofi Annan on the BBC website. The interview is conducted by Lyse Doucet. Not an entirely surprising line of questioning by a BBC “reporter”.
I’m afraid I couldn’t be bothered to write a transcript of Annan’s replies. I think the questions speak for themselves.
Q1) Let us start with the crisis in the US state of Louisiana. Has the aftermath of this crisis shocked you?
Q2) As you say, you offered it [assistance]early on, but they accepted it only recently.
Q3) They have been criticised for being too slow to respond. Did that exacerbate the crisis?
Q4) Kofi Annan, in a few days time, what has been described as the largest ever gathering of world leaders will start in New York. You have described it as nothing less than “a mandate and a vision to change the world”. Are you angry that the US is now trying to highjack it?
Q5) So you worked on it for about a year. A team has been working on it for about 6 months. Weeks ago 750 amendments come from the US ambassador John Bolten.
Q6) Is there a risk of failure?
Q7) Can you fight poverty if, as the United States demands you remove the target for countries to give 0.7% of their national product?
Q8 When John Bolton came to the UN you told me he had to operate in a spirit of give and take. He didn’t take your advice, did he?
Q9) Do you suspect that those critics you mention may be behind the timing of the next independent report for the oil for food program coming this week?
Q10) Are you braced for devastating criticism on Wednesday when the Bolton report is published?
Q11) For you, this comes at a time when you need the strongest hand possible. Critical summit beginning on reform and for your critics the oil for food is the single of human incompetence, efficiency and corruption [sic].
Q12) And sadly for you there is a personal dimension for you. The leaks suggest that you will be personally cleared of any wrong doing, but your son Kojo will again be in the spot light for trading on his father’s name.
I was not quite sure where Rob’s transcript came from. [UPDATE 15 SEP: Rob writes to say he did the transcript himself.] In one or two cases Rob’s transcript, which looks as if it might have been taken from computer-generated subtitles, differs from the presumably final version on the link. For instance, there are differences between his wording for Q11 and the wording on the website:
Q: But for you, it comes at a time when you need the strongest hand possible: a critical summit beginning on reform. And for your critics, the oil-for-food is the symbol of UN incompetence, inefficiency and corruption.
There are also one or two questions not included on Rob’s list – for instance the one about Make Poverty History. However these minor differences do not diminish his point. Lyse Doucet’s questioning is gentle to the point of sycophancy. Half of it is just feeding Annan lines of defence. And do you possibly think that Doucet might have a bit of a thing about the US?
Remember this next time you hear the BBC praise itself for “speaking truth to power.”