Saturday, January 01, 2005

There's one in every bunch

You know who I mean. The co-worker or fellow member of some community organization who, when the group is faced with a task, claims to be the leader, does no work but nitpicks everybody else's, and spends most of their time talking to folks outside the group claiming credit for all the work being done. Cut to the Diplomad:
Well, we're heading into Day 7 of the Asian quake/tsunami crisis. And the UN relief effort? Nowhere to be seen except at some meetings and on CNN and BBC as talking heads. In this corner of the Far Abroad, it's Yanks and Aussies doing the hard, sweaty work of saving lives.

Check out this interview (on the UN's official website) with SecGen Annan and Under SecGen Egeland shows,
I provided this to some USAID colleagues working in Indonesia and their heads nearly exploded. The first paragraph is quite simply a lie. The UN is taking credit for things that hard-working, street savvy USAID folks have done. It was USAID working with their amazing network of local contacts who scrounged up trucks, drivers, and fuel; organized the convoy and sent it off to deliver critical supplies. A UN “air-freight handling centre” in Aceh? Bull! It's the Aussies and the Yanks who are running the air ops into Aceh. We have people working and sleeping on the tarmac in Aceh, surrounded by bugs, mud, stench and death, who every day bring in the US and Aussie C-130s and the US choppers; unload, load, send them off. We have no fancy aid workers' retreat -- notice the priorities of the UN? People are dying and what's the first thing the UN wants to do? Set up "a camp for relief workers" one that would be "fully self-contained, with kitchen, food, lodging, everything."
Gosh, I hope they'll have a fully stocked bar, too!

And check out this post from the day before:
We have US C-130s flying in and out of here dropping off heaps of supplies; US choppers arrive today; USAID is doing a knock-out job of marshalling and coordinating US and local resources to deliver real assistance to real people. The Aussies have planes and troops delivering stuff; even the Indians have goods on the way. The UN? Nowhere to be seen. OK, I'm not being fair. Last night they played host to a big "coordination" meeting of donors to announce that the UNDP has another large "assessment and coordination team" team arriving. Our USAID guys, who've been working 18-20 hrs/day, came back furious from this meeting saying everybody would be dead if the delivery of aid waited for the UN to set up shop and begin "coordinating." The UN types are upset with the US, Ms. Short, dear, not because we're undermining them but because we're showing them up as totally inept.
Of course, my analogy breaks down because in the case of the United Nations, all the coworkers are paying them to "participate." I wonder when we'll wake up and kick the kleptocrats out?