Monday, June 20, 2005


June 20, 2005 Edition > Section: Editorials

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Soros to the Rescue?

New York Sun Editorial
June 20, 2005


George Soros, according to the Washington Post, called defeating President Bush "the central focus of my life" and a "matter of life and death." According to the Post, he has said, "America, under Bush, is a danger to the world" and believes a "supremist ideology" guides the White House. He has likened Mr. Bush's views to the Germans in World War II, according to the same Post story, and he spent millions trying to defeat Mr. Bush in the latest election. So what does one figure the Republican leadership in the Congress is going to make of the fact that the no. 2 officer at the United Nations, Mark Malloch Brown, whose current annual net salary as an undersecretary general is $125,000 a year, has emerged as the tenant in a house that Mr. Soros owns and that rents for $120,000 a year?

This insight into the cozy arrangement between Kofi Annan's camarilla and Mr. Bush's angriest political enemy was provided by our Benny Avni in his dispatch on Friday. He reports that both sides say the house, cheek by jowl with Mr. Soros's own residence, is being rented at market rate. He quotes a spokesman for the United Nations Development Program as saying that Mr. Malloch Brown is covering the rent from his savings. He notes that Messrs. Soros and Malloch Brown are good friends. Both the Soros camp and Mr. Malloch Brown's defenders insisted to our Mr. Avni that the living arrangement was set up as a "commercial transaction," rather than a gift.

If that's the case, Mr. Malloch Brown, who is probably the United Nations' most promising official, might want to provide some cancelled rent checks to the House Committee on International Relations, just for safekeeping. And probably get a copy to the Senate as well. Over the weekend, the online London Sunday Times quoted Mr. Malloch Brown as saying that although American right-wingers might disapprove of his association with Mr. Soros, "I hope in America you are still allowed to choose your own friends." Well, in America, yes. But on U.N. soil, we'll see. The London Sunday Times also quoted Mr. Malloch Brown as saying the atmosphere at the United Nations has become "entirely like revolutionary France, where the level of backstabbing and betrayal would make Shakespeare wince."

Call this little Thermidor the other side of the fight over Mr. Bush's nomination of John Bolton to be the American permanent representative. While news was surfacing of the Soros-Malloch Brown arrangement, the House of Representatives was voting - 221-to-184 - to halve American funding of the world body if it fails to implement minimal reforms, leaving taxpayers to wonder why, if it fails to implement reforms, they should pay even half. The House did reject an attempt by Rep. Tom Lantos, who has been losing credibility, to water down the measure by giving some discretion to the state secretary. "We have had enough waivers, enough resolutions, enough statements," Rep. Henry Hyde, chairman of international relations, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "It's time we had some teeth in reform."

The decision of the House Friday is an expression not only of a loss of confidence in the management of the United Nations but also in permanent bureaucracy at Foggy Bottom, which has been opposing the House's efforts to get tough. Why would Mr. Lantos think that if the Congress wanted to get tough with the United Nations it would hand the decision on whether to get tough over to a state department that has been opposing the idea of getting tough all along? In any event, the fight over funding the United Nations is going to move now to the Senate, where the lead on the issue will fall to Norman Coleman, who has been the most outspoken advocate of the idea that to enable the start of real reform at the United Nations, Secretary-General Annan should resign.

All this is a context in which it would be prudent, just in the fiduciary sense, for our representatives in Albany to wait to see what kind of financial shape the United Nations will be in before they let a state development corporation go on the hook for the financing of a temporary headquarters in Manhattan. We thought Tina Brown had it just right in her column Thursday; the power brokers in New York are not going to be a help to ordinary taxpaying New Yorkers in this fight. And if Mr. Annan needs someone to finance its temporary headquarters while it renovates its tower on the East River, maybe he can get Mr. Malloch Brown to get his neighbor, Mr. Soros, to lend a hand. If the Congress cuts American dues and the rent check is late, our guess is that Mr. Soros would be the forgiving sort.


Blogger yochanan said...

any u.n. funding at this time is too much.

anti semitism is the main reason for the u.n. today.

7:07 AM  

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