Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2001, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke to a world still reeling from the terrorist attacks of September 11. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” proclaimed Annan, “we have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further—we will realize that humanity is indivisible. New threats make no distinction between races, nations, or regions.” Yet within only a few years the world was more divided than ever—polarized by the American invasion of Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the escalating civil wars in Africa, and the rising influence of China.
Interventions: A Life in War and Peace is the story of Annan’s remarkable time at the center of the world stage. After forty years of service at the United Nations, Annan shares here his unique experiences during the terrorist attacks of September 11; the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan; the war between Israel, Hizbollah, and Lebanon; the brutal conflicts of Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia; and the geopolitical transformations following the end of the Cold War. With eloquence and unprecedented candor, Interventions finally reveals Annan’s unique role and unparalleled perspective on decades of global politics.
The first sub-Saharan African to hold the position of Secretary-General, Annan has led an extraordinary life in his own right. His idealism and personal politics were forged in the Ghanaian independence movement of his adolescence, when all of Africa seemed to be rising as one to demand self-determination. Schooled in Africa, Europe, and the United States, Annan ultimately joined the United Nations in Geneva at the lowest professional level in the still young organization. Annan rose rapidly through the ranks and was by the end of the Cold War prominently placed in the dramatically changing department of peacekeeping operations. His stories of Presidents Clinton and Bush, dictators like Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe, and public figures of all stripes contrast powerfully with Annan’s descriptions of the courage and decency of ordinary people everywhere struggling for a new and better world.
Showing the successes of the United Nations, Annan also reveals the organization’s missed opportunities and ongoing challenges—inaction in the Rwanda genocide, continuing violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and the endurance of endemic poverty. Yet Annan’s great strength in this book is his ability to embed these tragedies within the context of global politics, demonstrating how, time and again, the nations of the world have retreated from the UN’s founding purpose. From the pinnacle of global politics, Annan made it his purpose to put the individual at the center of every mission for peace and prosperity.
A personal biography of global statecraft, Annan’s Interventions is as much a memoir as a guide to world order—past, present, and future.
About Kofi Annan and Nader Mousavizadeh
KOFI ANNAN was the seventh secretary-general of the United Nations—serving two terms from January 1, 1997 to December 31, 2006—and was the first to emerge from the ranks of United Nations staff. Annan has served the United Nations in various capacities since 1962, including working as the under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations and the special representative of the secretary-general to the former Yugoslavia. Born in Ghana in 1938, Annan is the first sub-Saharan African to hold the post of secretary-general. In 2001, Kofi Annan and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with the citation praising Annan’s leadership for “bringing new life to the organization.”
NADER MOUSAVIZADEH is the chief executive officer of Oxford Analytica, a global analysis and advisory firm. Previously, Mousavizadeh served at the United Nations in the Office of the Secretary-General from 1997 to 2003 and was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs. A Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of Harvard College, he received his M.B.A. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Sloan Fellow. He is a foreign affairs columnist for Reuters and the editor of The Black Book of Bosnia.
The author, born in 1934, passes briefly over his education and early career at the World Health Organization and U.N., where he worked until his retirement in 2006, and moves rapidly into his main topic: the transformation of U.N. Peacekeeping Operations since the late 1980s and early ’90s. Since then, the idea that the U.N. Security Council can deploy military force to intervene in conflicts within sovereign nations and to protect human rights has become institutionalized. Because the transformation paralleled the progress of his own career, Annan, who was promoted to the directorate of PKO in 1993 and secretary-general in 1997, is uniquely situated to chronicle this time period in the organization, and he identifies three significant dates: 1992, after Desert Storm; 1998, after the Bosnian conflict and the Rwandan genocide; and again in 2005. First, consent of all the parties to a conflict was no longer required; then the need for self-contained fighting forces to drive military outcomes was recognized; and finally, there was the adoption of what its sponsors called “the responsibility to protect.” However, the U.N. has often lacked the means—specifically the “self-contained fighting force”—to accomplish some of its goals, so disagreement has been ongoing between nationalist interests and those who aspire to exercise the powers of a world government. Annan also discusses his roles in the U.N.’s millennial development program and its work on AIDS. – Kirkus Reviews
Kofi Annan On Syria, Hard Choices Of Peacekeeping
NPR Book Review – September 1, 2012 (Excerpt)
Kofi Annan has dedicated his life to seeking peace. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was the first career United Nations staffer to become secretary-general, after having been an assistant secretary-general for human resources, then for finance, and finally the head of Peacekeeping Operations, where he would be sorely tested by devastating wars in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia.
Annan was secretary-general — the first from sub-Saharan Africa — for two terms. Most recently, he served as the joint U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria, though he quit that post in August, criticizing the U.N. Security Council for its failure to take action in the region.
Annan has written a book about his life’s work, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace, with Nader Mousavizadeh. He spoke with NPR’s Scott Simon about his attitudes toward using force, the decisions he has made, and what future he sees in Syria. [Read the full article...]
Kofi Annan’s memoir, ‘Interventions: A Life in War and Peace’
The Washington Post Book Review – September 21, 2012 (Excerpt)
In his new memoir, “Interventions,” Kofi Annan jokes that “SG,” the abbreviation for his title as U.N. secretary general, carried a second meaning around the organization’s headquarters that more aptly described the role of the world’s top diplomat: scapegoat.
During a four-decade U.N. career, including 10 years in the top job, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate shouldered his share of blame for some of the world’s worst human rights calamities. As the undersecretary general for peacekeeping in the 1990s, Annan bore responsibility for U.N. missions in Bosnia and Rwanda, where peacekeeping forces failed to stem the slaughter of civilians under their watch. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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