THE UN GANG by Pedro A. Sanjuan


A Memoir of Incompetence, Corruption, Espionage, Anti-Semitism, and Islamic Extremism at the UN Secretariat
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A veteran U.S. government official blasts the UN Secretariat for . . . well, see the subtitle.

Appointed by Vice President Bush in 1983 to monitor Soviet espionage activities at the Secretariat, Sanjuan tells us that he immediately began taking notes, so presumably we can take as accurate the many verbatim exchanges he records between himself and folks ranging from general secretaries to Secretaries General. He portrays a culture that sanctions incompetence, revels in anti-Semitism, winks at drug sales in the UN parking garage, encourages espionage (at which the ubiquitous Soviets were especially adept), promotes an anti-American agenda, celebrates nepotism and enriches the likes of Saddam Hussein while failing to execute its fundamental mission to improve the quality of life around the globe, especially in areas ravaged by disease, war and economic collapse. For good measure, he implies strongly that members of the Secretariat implicitly supported, and perhaps facilitated, the 9/11 attackers. The author disdains all the Secretaries General who followed Dag Hammarskjöld (1953–61) and argues that before the fall of the Soviet Union, both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.desired weak UN leaders because they were easier to control. In his view, this was why Kurt Waldheim (1972–81), whose Nazi background was well-known, nonetheless ascended to the highest post. Sanjuan sketches an especially devastating picture of Javier Pérez de Cuellar (1982–91), who comes off as an ineffectual fool. There is more than a touch of self-righteousness in these pages. The author speaks bluntly to incompetents, stands tall among ethical and moral midgets, refuses to be sullied or intimidated, speaks harshly of Madeleine Albright and strongly for John Bolton. One suspects there will be no grateful rush at the UN to implement his recommendations for remediation. Fortunately for readers, Sanjuan is as amusing as he is opinionated, using swift, ironic sentences and juxtapositions to expose the Secretariat’s blotches and blemishes.

Powerful ammunition for those who wish to reform or abolish the UN.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 2005
ISBN: 0-385-51319-4
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2005