This genocide in Darfur, Jim Lehrer said to Annan, "has been well known and reported all over the world. Why has it taken so long to stop this?"
Annan answered: "You can imagine my anguish as a human being and as an African—an African secretary-general—to see us going through this after what we went through in Rwanda. It's very painful and difficult to take."
He then described the way they "operate and run this peacekeeping operation," saying, "It would be a bit like telling the fire department in Washington, D.C., that 'We know you need a fire department, but we'll build you one when the fire breaks.' Because it is when the fire breaks that we [at the U.N.] start putting together the army, we start collecting the money, to create an army that will go in."
Annan did not mention, though he knows it well, that in the U.N. Security Council, if one or more of the members with veto power has ideological or other reasons to refuse to start the fire engines, the fire keeps on spreading destruction.
But then came the light in the international darkness. Annan went on to declare what may well be his most vital legacy—if his successor agrees and will at least create worldwide opinion against members of the U.N. Security Council who keep feeding the flames of genocide by not allowing the U.N. to act.
"This is the built-in delay in the way we operate," said Annan. "And this is why when member states deem that it is extremely urgent to move quickly, they've tended to put together a coalition of the willing, a multinational force, outside the U.N. so that they can move quickly."
So why do we need the UN?