Edward Mortimer

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Edward Mortimer is a former speech writer and policy advisor to Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General. Mortimer is a close associate of Richard Holbrooke, the former Assistant Secretary of State.

Critical Assessment

The appointment of Mortimer (together with Nader Mousavizadeh and Mark Malloch Brown) as speechwriters/advisors basically provided an American-determined script to Kofi Annan, and ensured that the UN agenda remained under US domination. Perry Anderson relates [1]:

But since the real work of the UN is the manufacture not of actions but of legitimations, the two key figures were the set's ventriloquists, who wrote the speeches and articles furbishing the secretary-general with his rhetorical image - much needed, since Annan's own powers of expression were wooden to say the least. This pair, Edward Mortimer and Nader Mousavizadeh, came from the Financial Times and the New Republic respectively, two publications whose political profiles need little specification. Not surprisingly, Annan's various pronouncements, applauded for their eloquence by like-minded colleagues across the West, were little more than lofty versions of editorials in these two publications. Mortimer, from a high ecclesiastical background, was a founder of the International Committee for a Free Iraq along with Ahmed Chalabi. Relations between them remained sufficiently close, Meisler tells us, for Chalabi to tip him off in advance of the Oil for Food affair before it broke. Mousavizadeh, editor of The Black Book of Bosnia, though technically a Dane, 'was essentially American' - as Traub puts it - 'and, like Ruggie, could not view international law as the summum bonum'. Later, Mousavizadeh was to be elected a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in Davos, where Ruggie once conducted Annan as 'the first secretary-general to speak at . . . the annual conclave of capital'. He now adorns Goldman Sachs, presumably pending higher things.

Few episodes are more revealing of the part played by this Anglo-American duo than the way in which the world came to learn that Nato's blitz on Yugoslavia in 1999 was legitimate. Annan, unsure how to react, had to be manned up by his mentors to issue the absolving words. Rejecting a first draft submitted to him that expressed regret at the outbreak of war, Mortimer and Mousavizadeh handed him their own document, lauding the attack, to sign. According to Traub, 'Mortimer says that when he delivered the new version, Annan gazed fixedly at it and finally said: "This is the most difficult statement I have had to make as secretary-general." And then he agreed to issue the statement.'


External Resources

  • ^Perry Anderson, Our Man, London Review of Books, 10 May 2007. (An important critical assessment of the American manipulation of the United Nations.)