I didn’t catch the interview, but I’m assuming that the Oil-for-Fraud programme and the Child-Sex-for-Food programme notwithstanding, Miss Short managed to utter that last sentence with a straight face. But, if you’re a homeless Sri Lankan, what matters is not who has the moral authority, but who has the water tankers and medical helicopters. President Bush didn’t even bother mentioning the UN in his statement. Kofi Annan, by contrast, has decided that the Aussie-American “coalition of the willing” is, in fact, a UN operation. “The core group will support the UN effort,” he said. “That group will be in support of the efforts that the UN is leading.”
So American personnel in American planes and American ships will deliver American food and American medicine and implement an American relief plan, but it’s still a “UN-led effort”. That seems to be enough for Kofi. His “moral authority” is intact, and Guardian columnists and Telegraph readers can still bash the Yanks for their stinginess. Everybody’s happy.