A few days ago, I noted Kofi Annan's statement that the countries apparently bribed by Saddam in the Oil-for-Food program were "not . . . banana republics."
Today, in the Wall Street Journal's opinionjournal.com, Claudia Rosett eviscerates Mr. Annan in a piece called "La République des Bananes."
There's a lot more there, and I don't want to spoil the fun. Enjoy!
To be fair, maybe that's how the world would appear to anyone dulled for decades by U.N. diplo-speak--and Mr. Annan has toiled there for 42 years. But in the modern world, the notion that Russia and China in no way qualify as banana republics might be news to the state-muffled media of both countries. It might also surprise readers of the Berlin-based Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks 133 countries by levels of corruption, from best to worst. On that list, China ranks about halfway down, worse than Colombia or Peru and tied for 66th place with Panama, Sri Lanka and Syria. Russia does worse yet, ranked between Romania and Algeria, and tied for 86th place with Mozambique.
France does much better. Though it ranks as more corrupt than the U.S., Israel or Japan, it ties with Spain for a still respectable 23rd place. That makes France one of the most corrupt countries not in the entire world, but merely in Western Europe.
Alas, such dignity may come as cold comfort to the French, given that Mr. Annan did not actually deny that the Chinese, Russians and French had taken big payoffs from Saddam. Mr. Annan merely disputed that the Chinese, Russians and French would have delivered anything in return for the bribes. In other words, they may be corrupt, but at least they weren't honest about it.