Thursday, September 15, 2005

Gimme, gimme, gimme

I've seen on other blogs that you could ask for donations, gifts, etc. and complete strangers would actually send you money, but try as I might, I'm incapable of reproducing that cute little donation box picture. So I'm just going to ask for a gift right here, in this post. Not very elegant, I agree, but I'm what the French call «Lay Incumpaytants».

So, here' s what I would like you to give me: a book called "U.N. Gang: A Memoir of Incompetence, Corruption, Anti-Semitism, and Islamic Extremism at the UN Secretariat" by Pedro A. Sanjuan. Here are the reviews, taken from the Barnes and Nobles site:


On the day Pedro Sanjuan moved into his new office at the UN Secretariat in 1984, he had the foresight to unscrew his telephone receiver. Out fell a little packet of high-grade cocaine. When he confronted the undersecretary to the chief Soviet diplomat--really a KGB colonel and the top Russian spy--the agent laughed good-naturedly and congratulated him on passing the test. That was the beginning of Sanjuan's long, peculiar odyssey into the looking-glass world of the United Nations Secretariat.

Pedro Sanjuan had been appointed by then--Vice President George H. W. Bush to a high-ranking UN post. His real mission: to keep an eye on Soviet espionage activities. Over the years, the Russians had managed to install nearly four hundred KGB and GRU agents in strategic positions throughout the Secretariat, and had turned it into a massive spy facility, operating openly and with absolute impunity on American soil.

But this, it turned out, was the least of the problem. Sanjuan soon discovered that incompetence, corruption, anti-Semitism, and outright criminality were rife throughout the UN Secretariat. Among the shady activities that he personally observed or documented were rigged bidding for major service contracts; drug transactions conducted in the UN's parking garage; sale of shotguns and beryllium directly out of the UN building; ties to global organized crime figures; use of UN Information Centers and other agencies to disseminate anti-US and pro-PLO propaganda; systematic theft and abuse of UN facilities and budgets in East Africa; graft and corruption in Vienna; widespread sexual harrassment; use of the UN employee's lounge to plan anti-Israel and anti-US activities by Muslimdelegates; open celebration of 9/11 by said delegates in the halls of the UN; and inexplicable tolerance of all of the above on the part of the secretary general and the US government.

Sanjuan's cast of characters includes every secretary general from Kurt Waldheim to Kofi Annan, and a large number of bureaucratic rogues and scoundrels. Much of what he documents in The UN Gang is absurdly comical. But its seriousness should not be overlooked.

Ultimately, Sanjuan argues, the weakness and corruption of the UN is our own responsibility. During the Cold War, the superpowers conspired to render it a useless forum for international pronouncements and posturing. Now, however, it has become the focal point of global resistance to American interests and policies. Will we continue to host an unholy convention of anti-Semitic, America-hating hypocrites? Or will we take steps to reform this once-proud institution and make it serve the ends of peace, justice, and international order? Only time will tell.


Publishers Weekly

The United Nations headquarters appears as a byzantine bureaucracy riddled with lazy staff, rampant sexual harassment, hectoring anti-Semitism and flagrant drug dealing in this contemptuous memoir. And worse: Sanjuan alleges that the U.N. library housed the largest KGB intelligence operation in America and hints darkly - with no apparent evidence - that the 9/11 attacks may have been plotted by Islamic jihadists at the U.N. Sanjuan served as policy planning director in the U.N. Secretariat, but his real job, he says, was to "spy" on the organization's inner workings for the Reagan and Bush administrations. It's hard to see how he accomplished either of these delicate assignments, given his bristling, bull-in-the-china-shop approach to the tasks. He loathes everyone at the U.N., from the "pusillanimous" former secretary-general Javier Pérez de Cuellar to the security guard he upbraids for not saying "please," and he delights in verbatim accounts of the long dressings-down he metes out to those who step on his toes. "I used a very strong expletive with reference to the Soviet undersecretary-general's mother" pretty much sums up his attitude toward diplomatic niceties. The author delivers a lively, preening, sometimes eye-opening insider's account, but his obvious polemical intent and the enormous chip on his shoulder overshadow his critique of the U.N.'s failings. (Sept. 20) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal

Appointed to the political affairs department of the New York headquarters of the UN Secretariat in 1984, following a 27-year career in the U.S. federal government, Sanjuan (War) has written a scathing insider's memoir. Vice President George H.W. Bush asked him to monitor the Soviet KGB agents whom he might find working at the UN. He found many, strategically placed throughout the bureaucracy for maximum espionage effectiveness (he describes the UN Library as "probably the most comprehensive intelligence collection machine the USSR has in the United States"). He also found a bloated bureaucracy, offices with similar names and apparently overlapping functions, rampant nepotism, and excessively high contract prices on everything. When he complained to Washington, he found no one interested in taking corrective action, even though, as he frequently reminds the reader, U.S. taxpayers were paying 25 percent of the UN budget. Sanjuan tells his story with both sarcasm and genuine humor while causing outrage. Other recent UN memoirs, such as Giandomenico Picco's Man Without a Gun, have concentrated on UN activity outside of its bureaucracy. Readers with a negative view of the UN will find their opinions reinforced; those hoping that the UN can be reformed will find this account sobering. Highly recommended for its unusual perspective.-Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

A veteran U.S. government official blasts the UN Secretariat for . . . well, see the subtitle. Appointed by Vice President Bush in 1983 to monitor Soviet espionage activities at the Secretariat, Sanjuan tells us that he immediately began taking notes, so presumably we can take as accurate the many verbatim exchanges he records between himself and folks ranging from general secretaries to Secretaries General. He portrays a culture that sanctions incompetence, revels in anti-Semitism, winks at drug sales in the UN parking garage, encourages espionage (at which the ubiquitous Soviets were especially adept), promotes an anti-American agenda, celebrates nepotism and enriches the likes of Saddam Hussein while failing to execute its fundamental mission to improve the quality of life around the globe, especially in areas ravaged by disease, war and economic collapse. For good measure, he implies strongly that members of the Secretariat implicitly supported, and perhaps facilitated, the 9/11 attackers. The author disdains all the Secretaries General who followed Dag Hammarskjold (1953-61) and argues that before the fall of the Soviet Union, both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.desired weak UN leaders because they were easier to control. In his view, this was why Kurt Waldheim (1972-81), whose Nazi background was well-known, nonetheless ascended to the highest post. Sanjuan sketches an especially devastating picture of Javier Perez de Cuellar (1982-91), who comes off as an ineffectual fool. There is more than a touch of self-righteousness in these pages. The author speaks bluntly to incompetents, stands tall among ethical and moral midgets, refuses to be sullied or intimidated, speaks harshly of MadeleineAlbright and strongly for John Bolton. One suspects there will be no grateful rush at the UN to implement his recommendations for remediation. Fortunately for readers, Sanjuan is as amusing as he is opinionated, using swift, ironic sentences and juxtapositions to expose the Secretariat's blotches and blemishes. Powerful ammunition for those who wish to reform or abolish the UN.

So, whip out your chequebook!!
Krr..Krr..Krr...Krr..[cricket sound]

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