In language that will undoubtedly be perceived as unusually harsh by the world?s diplomats, Sen. Coleman wrote, ?It?s time for Kofi Annan to step down. The massive scope of this debacle demands nothing less.?
Aside from a small group of mostly closeted conservatives, Sen. Coleman?s most recent bout of bluntness has not won him new friends at Foggy Bottom. Not that he seems to mind. Nor does he take any potshots, though, at the diplomats who resent his inquiry.
Interviewed for this column, Sen. Coleman said, ?I don?t feel I?m being undercut? by the State Department. When asked if that meant his investigation was getting full support and cooperation from State, he stood by his carefully chosen words. Moments later, though not necessarily in the context of State?s actions, Sen. Coleman added, ?We?re not getting everything I need at this point.?
Others on Capitol Hill are getting into the act. Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) is preparing a resolution urging the U.N. to strip Kofi Annan of his pension. While the international body can?and most likely will?brush it off, that such a resolution is even being drafted is a bad sign for the U.N.
As often happens in Washington, once a movement or a consensus reaches critical mass, the tide rarely turns back. Not that that would stop State?s careerists from wanting to try. The Foreign Service has a long, though not proud, history of backing thugs and tyrants, even after Congress has expressed its strong opposition to them. The U.N. can probably expect no less?that is, if the Foreign Service has its way. But Condi might not let that happen.
Although many conservatives view Condi with a skeptical eye, Sen. Coleman seems downright enthusiastic, displaying an exuberance that goes beyond the obligatory support a Republican senator is expected to provide GOP nominees. And while he?s never spoken to the incoming secretary of state about oil-for-food, he seems confident when he says, ?She understands what?s at stake here.?
If she does?and acts accordingly?Secretary Rice would be off to a very good start.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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