Outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan harshly criticized the Bush administration’s foreign policy Monday in a farewell speech to a crowd in Independence, Mo.
In an address at the presidential library of Harry S. Truman, who was instrumental in the founding of the United Nations, Annan accused the U.S. administration of committing human rights abuses in the name of fighting terrorism, and of taking military action without broad international support.
Respect for human rights and the rule of law can be advanced only “if America remains true to its principles, including in the struggle against terrorism,” Annan said. “When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused.”
Read the full speech here.
When “military force is used, the world at large will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose “¦ in accordance with broadly accepted norms,” he said in reference to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Annan repeatedly praised Truman’s support for the United Nations and contrasted his foreign policy with many Bush administration policies.
“The lesson here is that high-sounding doctrines like the ‘responsibility to protect’ will remain pure rhetoric unless and until those with the power to intervene effectively – by exerting political, economic or, in the last resort, military muscle – are prepared to take the lead,” he said. “As President Truman said, ‘The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not dominate the peoples of the world.'”
Annan, who leaves the United Nations on Dec. 31 after 10 years as secretary-general, has become an increasingly vocal critic of the war in Iraq.
Annan summed up five principles he considers essential: collective responsibility, global solidarity, rule of law, mutual accountability and multilateralism.
Annan also called for a reform of the Security Council, saying its membership “still reflects the reality of 1945.” He suggested adding new members to represent parts of the world with less of a voice.
He said the permanent members, the world powers, “must accept the special responsibility that comes with their privilege.”
“The Security Council is not just another stage on which to act out national interests,” he said in another jab at Bush.
Annan has had a strained relationship with the Bush administration and with outgoing U.S. Ambassador John Bolton.
He was criticized by some in the administration and in Iraq after saying earlier this month that the level of violence in Iraq is much worse than that of Lebanon’s civil war and that some Iraqis believe their lives were better under Saddam Hussein.
He also has urged the international community to help rebuild Iraq, saying he was not sure Iraq could accomplish it alone.
Bolton also is leaving this month. He resigned in the wake of the November elections, which gave Democrats control over the next Congress and made his Senate confirmation unlikely.
After a private dinner Tuesday night at the White House for Annan, Bolton joked that “nobody sang ‘Kumbaya.”‘
Told at the time of Bolton’s comment, Annan laughed and asked: “But does he know how to sing it?”