SOMETIMES what you say may be right but saying it may be wrong. That is the situation in which Mark Malloch Brown, Kofi Annan's deputy at the United Nations, finds himself after making critical remarks about the attitude of the United States government towards the UN. Mr Brown is a very senior official of the United Nations and he should not be criticising the actions of a member state at a public meeting. However, Secretary General Annan has declined to criticise Mr Brown's speech, saying It was not a mistake. He is wrong, too, but the combination of his impending departure at the end of this year and frustration with the American government may have emboldened him to support his deputy (who is leaving at the same time). The burden of Mark Malloch Brown's offending speech was that the US makes use of the UN when it suits it but does little or nothing to counter right-wing criticism (he cited Fox News) or to tell the US Congress and American people what good work the UN is doing in the world. The accusation is broadly correct and Mr Brown linked it to criticism of the current US threat to withold funding by the end of June if other countries do not agree to the administrative reforms it wants to see introduced at the UN. Again Mr Brown is right, but also wrong. Someone of his experience should have known that.
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