In 1984 Pedro Sanjuan was appointed by then-Vice President George H. W. Bush to the UN Secretariat. During the next 10 years what Sanjuan discovered pertaining to the inner working of the Secretariat, as well as other United Nations agencies, was mind boggling. It is quite remarkable to read the sense of detachment exhibited by the various UN secretary-generals pertaining to criminal, corrupt, clandestine and conspiratorial activities going on under their very noses. As if they adhered to the old saying, see no evil hear no evil!
To comprehend the workings of the United Nations it is essential to bear in mind, as Sanjuan points out in his book, THE UN GANG: A MEMOIR OF INCOMPETENCE, CORRUPTION, ESPIONAGE, ANTI-SEMITISM, AND ISLAMIC EXTREMISM AT THE UN SECRETARIAT, the UN is controlled from only one place-the Security Council. It is here where its members make deals, including the nominating of weak and ineffectual secretaries-general who can easily be manipulated. Furthermore, it has always been a covert arena for political maneuvering and disputes, that is contrary to the charter of the UN.
When Sanjuan was appointed to his post, his primary mission was to keep tabs on the espionage activities of the Soviet Union. It was common knowledge that the Soviets were able to control many important departments of the UN and to cleverly use them to their advantage. As mentioned in the narrative, the Soviet department of political and Security Council affairs was always to be headed by a Soviet undersecretary-general and was under the control of the Kremlin. This was effectuated through a system of Soviet assistants and KGB operatives that occupied all supervisory positions. Likewise, many other UN departments, including the extensive Russian translation facilities, were controlled by the Soviets with their primary objective of protecting a gigantic intelligence operation, hidden under the disguise of being international servants working for the benefit of the UN.
Another of Sanjuan's discoveries was the trafficking by UN personnel in drugs such as cocaine, heroin and other quality products in the UN garage that went on all the time. Quite ironically, it is the American tax payer who foots the bill for about twenty-five percent of the UN budget!
Other illicit activities included the sale of shotguns by members of the UN disarmament department, as well as the sale of controlled substance used in the production of nuclear weapons, gross forms of nepotism, favoritism and cronyism, diversion of millions of dollars in UN funds to large accounting firms, infiltration of heads of large organized crime syndicates, corruption of many sectors of its overseas operations, such as the criminal activities of the Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, the taking of bribes by UN officials from companies wanting to do business with the UN, and many other illicit actitivites.
Sanjuan's frightening narrative will probably not endear him with the likes of the present secretary-general, Kofi Annan, his predecessors or the many UN officials. However, it is a narrative that had to be told in order to comprehend what is going on to-day within the walls of an institution claiming to be neutral and working for the good of mankind.
There is a great deal here to ponder about, as the author's fine mind and breezy writing style effortlessly transports readers from incident to incident without loosing a beat-even throwing in some humor along the way, and closing with a sum up with some excellent suggestions as to how it is possible to reform the UN.
Reviewer: Norm Goldman, Editor of Bookpleasures.com