Liberian Women And Children Victims Of UN Peacekeeping

The degradation of the United Nations continues apace under the moral authority of the Kofi Annan administration. The AP reports that UN peacekeepers sexually exploited Liberian women and children in the same pattern as they did in Congo and several of the other UN assignments:

UN peacekeepers sexually abused and exploited local women and girls in Liberia and more accusations are expected, a UN spokesman said Friday. …
“The allegations range from the exchange of goods, money or services for sex to the sexual exploitation of minors. The peacekeeping department here in New York as well as the mission on the ground are taking appropriate follow-up action,” he said.
A UN official speaking on condition of anonymity said the number of allegations could eventually total 20.
The head of the mission in Liberia, Jacques Paul Klein, is to step down when his contract expires at the end of the month, a UN spokesman announced Thursday. His deputy Abou Moussa will temporarily take over.

So what the UN proposes is to leave the man responsible for this behavior in charge for another month — and then to promote his right-hand man “temporarily” in his place. Wow, that’ll teach them to rape and pillage the locals! Small wonder almost every UN deployment has resulted in what the UN itself defines as war crimes.
How can anyone doubt that the UN needs diplomats who talk tough and demand action, rather than milquetoast ambassadors who concern themselves more with the proper arrangement of seating at dinners rather than reform? Efforts to block John Bolton’s appointment to Turtle Bay amount to little more than an endorsement of the current UN regime and its track record of disgusting corruption and criminal lack of discipline. Anyone still laboring under the illusion that Annan should remain in his position should be ashamed of themselves.

Jack Kelly: GOP Needs A Spine

Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette makes the argument that the GOP has lost political momentum through the lackadaisical effort of its legislative caucuses, especially in the Senate, since the elections last year. Kelly writes that a lack of effort and basic competence in the Republican leadership has allowed the Democrats to bounce back from their stunning defeats, assisted by an ever-willing Exempt Media:

Democrats may have been waxed at the polls last November, but they’re running rings around Republicans in the public relations battles so far this year. Consider:
* Polls indicate a majority of Americans agree with President Bush that reform of Social Security is needed, and about half of Americans favor his plan to permit workers to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts. But in the most recent poll (taken for CBS April 13-16), only 25 percent of respondents indicated they were “confident” Bush would make the right decisions about Social Security, while 70 percent were “uneasy.”
* The president’s nomination of Undersecretary of State John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is in trouble after waffling by GOP Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio forced postponement until May 12 of a vote in the Foreign Relations Committee. Nominees rarely gain strength while they twist in the wind.
* In a poll taken by Ayres-McHenry (a Republican firm) on April 4, 78 percent of respondents said senators have a constitutional duty to vote on judicial nominees. Yet in a recent poll taken for Senate Republicans, 51 percent of respondents opposed ending the Democratic filibuster that has been blocking votes on Bush’s nominees for federal appeals courts.
Democrats benefit enormously from having most of the major media in the tank for them. Although media bias is more egregious than ever, it’s not exactly a new phenomenon. You’d think Republicans would be prepared for it by now.

Plenty of blame exists for these developments, and Kelly spreads it around to everyone, including the White House, for not focusing on legislative business more effectively. He argues, I believe convincingly, that a tactical loss on one front was expected, but losing on all fronts shows a serious lack of competence in party leadership. Read all of his excellent column today, and consider just how much of the President’s expressed priorities have even been addressed by this session of Congress yet. The only issues that have moved through the Senate, for instance, are one portion of tort reform, the bankruptcy reform act, and a highway bill still under debate. Nothing on the Patriot Act renewal, Social Security reform, or the judicial confirmations that the GOP advertised as its highest domestic priority. They haven’t even gotten the additional funding passed yet for the war on terror.
Not exactly a track record of excellence as the fourth month of the session draws to a close…

French May Yet Approve EU Constitution

The Guardian (UK) reports that Jacques Chirac has made some progress in turning around what would have been a devastating loss in the upcoming plebescite to approve the new EU constitution. Polling now indicates that the French favor the constitution by a slim but unstable margin, with many who now support it saying they may change their minds:

Opinion polls out this weekend show for the first time that a majority of French people intend to vote in favour of the European draft constitution next month.
The two surveys, carried out for Le Monde and the Journal du Dimanche, found that 52 per cent supported the draft constitution and 48 per cent opposed it.
But a large proportion said they might still change their minds ahead of the 29 May referendum – 24 per cent in the Le Monde poll and 30 per cent in the other survey.

However, with French unemployment now over 10% and the government pressing for further labor reforms to bring France into a market-based economy, that lead looks short-lived. As the Guardian notes, today’s May Day celebrations of labor will undoubtedly include protests over the loss of a holiday on May 16th, which precedes the referendum by less than a fortnight. Many French workers see the new constitution as a further threat to employment as industries will have an expanded ability to relocate to other European locales where the labor force doesn’t expect 32-hour work weeks and the entire month of August as a holiday.
Even more interesting is the polling from the Netherlands, which the French see as a bellwether EU nation. The referendum for ratification takes place on June 1 for the Dutch, and so far the measure looks to be heading for a resounding defeat, with 58% voting no. That may let the French off the hook, as the constitution must have universal approval among all EU nations. If the French see a defeat upcoming in the Netherlands, they may decide that a yes vote carries little risk of immediate application, while maintaining French influence on EU politics. The Socialists are also using British opposition to the constitution as a reason to vote for approval, appealing to traditional Franco-British tensions.
In the end, I’d expect this to squeak by in Paris, but that hardly represents a resounding endorsement of Chirac’s EU policy.