The Magazine

Kofi's Choice

The U.N. secretary general gets entangled in l'Affaire Sommaruga.

May 13, 2002, Vol. 7, No. 34 • By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER
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In any case, you don't just front up to the ICRC window and ask for admission of your symbol. You have to show that the symbol has already been in humanitarian use. Palestinian Jews had been using the red Star of David for years even before the state of Israel came into existence. Did Sri Lankan ambulances sport the swastika?

In fact, the only country to use the swastika in its Red Cross emblem was Nazi Germany. Its (internal) humanitarian emblem was the black eagle with the swastika over its heart, and its talons clutching the Red Cross below.

The very idea of comparing the Star of David to the swastika is grotesque. The fact that Sommaruga blurted this out in a non-public setting is telling. It is precisely because it is telling that assorted public relations artists for him and for Annan are now running around trying to paper things over.

But surely they can do a better job. They would do better to meet in committee and coordinate their stories before spinning tales about swastikas--in context, of course.

Charles Krauthammer is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.