[ed. note - found in a remodeling dumpster at 48th and FDR Drive: first draft of Kofi Annan's valediction]
Nearly 50 years ago, when I arrived in Minnesota as a student fresh from Africa, I had much to learn. For example, the concept of “connecting flights,” because I was actually supposed to be going to California. My cab had already plowed through several miles of Minneapolis snowdrifts before I realized my horrible mistake, but I decided to make the best of it. Over the next few years I adapted to the quaint arctic customs of the indigenous Minnesotans -- wearing their colorful earmuffs, training my gag reflex against their cruel lutefisk. Still, lesson learned: I vowed, with God as my witness, that I would never fly coach again. All my life since has been a learning experience. Now I want to pass on five other lessons I have learned during 10 years as secretary general of the United Nations, as well as CEO of KofiCo Oil Vouchers Ltd.
First, in today's world we are all responsible for each other's security. Against such threats as nuclear proliferation, climate change, global pandemics or terrorist accountants plotting UN audits from their safe havens in failed superpowers, no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over others, and their private financial records. Only by working together can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves, and perhaps a nice comfortable villa in Switzerland. Let’s just say that “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
But when we look at the murder, rape and starvation still being inflicted on the people of Darfur, we realize that our teams of fun-loving security back-scratchers can sometimes be a PR headache. That’s why we must also summon the political, economic and marketing muscle to keep ahead of the news cycle. Boys will be boys, and in the grand scheme of things, do a few rambunctious UN troops really matter when all the planet’s children are under the looming threat of climate change? I mean, what's with that? Do you people hate the planet’s children or something?
Second, we are also responsible for each other's welfare. As secretary general, my primary responsibility is to protect member states from widespread famine, genocide, and thermonuclear attack. All I ask in return is reserved parking and some decent window offices for me and my staff. Although I’ve kept my end of the bargain -- going 175-22 against key famine and genocide goals in FY ’06, I might add – there are some member states who are shirking their responsibilities by continually bitching about office remodeling cost. I’m not naming any names (cough cough USA cough), but I will say sometimes it’s pretty damn hard to focus on protecting you American ingrates from famine and genocide when you’re always carping about budgets. By the way, you’re welcome.
Third, both security and prosperity depend on respect for human rights and the rule of law. Throughout history human life has been enriched by diversity, and different communities have learned from each other. For example, the various communities of the world have a rainbow of views on the definition of “rights,” and “law,” others have some really interesting perspectives on the definition of “humans.” All of these global communities deserve their turn at the head of the world classroom -- filling its blackboard with their diverse wisdom, developing their own grade curves, and sending unruly communities to detention if necessary.
Respect for diversity is vital for development, too. It is important for Foreign investors and international development organizations to realize that many global communities have strong cultural taboos against financial reporting laws, for they are considered to be cursed with bad mojo. In order to maintain global obeah and appease Ungasha, cheetah-god of financial development, investors should respect local cultural mores as well as tribal debt repayment customs. In return, local development officials will soon be flying off to Zurich to learn about the rich diversity of Alpine banking institutions.
My fourth lesson, therefore, is that governments must be accountable for their actions, in the international as well as the domestic arena. Every state owes some account to other states, much like the popular “Monopoly” board game by Parker Brothers. Poor and weak states, in impoverished regions like Baltic Avenue, are easily held to account by large and powerful colonial states with vast railroad and utility holdings and multiple hotels on Boardwalk.
But who holds such players in account? This is why we need multilateral institutions like the United Nations to act as the independent “banker” in this complicated international board game. Our role is to act as a bulwark against unilateral players who threaten to run roughshod around the board in their monocles and spats. We keep a close eye on the money tray and extend credit to weaker nations who are struggling to pass “GO.” We also manage “FREE PARKING” and “COMMUNITY CHEST,” and pass “GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL” resolutions against the rogue Zionist entity occupying Marvin Gardens.
So my final lesson is that institutions like the UN must be organized in a fair and democratic way, giving the poor and the weak some influence over the actions of the rich and the strong. And what could be more democratic than one country, one vote? Okay, maybe we could give a bonus vote to France because they invented democracy. This new spirit of democracy would be bolstered by adding new permanent or long-term members to the U.N. Security Council. There are hundreds of deserving candidates, but one I like is Kofiland, a newly emerging island state in the Caymans headed by my son Kojo. Hey, just throwing it out there.
No less important, all of the Security Council's members must accept the responsibility that comes with being part of this elite 170-member body. The council is not a stage for acting out national interests. It is the management committee of our fledgling global security system. And if there’s anything our world needs right now, it is a functioning system that will insure the systematic viability, security and stability of this global system.
Experience has shown, time and again, that such important global systems work poorly when the United States remains aloof from, or works against these systems, but the systems functions much better when there is farsighted U.S. leaders who are willing to be a part of the systems, or at least look the other way when these important systems are going about their business.
The ongoing struggle between selfish national interest and a functioning system for the global community gives American leaders of today an opportunity to ponder an important question: just whose side are you guys on, anyway?