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The UN Gang: A Memoir of Incompetence, Corruption, Espionage, Anti-Semitism and Islamic Extremism at the UN Secretariat [Hardcover]

Pedro A. Sanjuan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Sep 2005
On the day Pedro Sanjuan moved into his new office at the UN Secretariat in 1984, he had the foresight to unscrew his telephone receiver. Out fell a little packet of high-grade cocaine. When he confronted the undersecretary to the chief Soviet diplomat—really a KGB colonel and the top Russian spy—the agent laughed good-naturedly and congratulated him on passing the test.

That was the beginning of Sanjuan’s long, peculiar odyssey into the looking-glass world of the United Nations Secretariat.

Pedro Sanjuan had been appointed by then–Vice President George H. W. Bush to a high-ranking UN post. His real mission: to keep an eye on Soviet espionage activities. Over the years, the Russians had managed to install nearly four hundred KGB and GRU agents in strategic positions throughout the Secretariat, and had turned it into a massive spy facility, operating openly and with absolute impunity on American soil.

But this, it turned out, was the least of the problem. Sanjuan soon discovered that incompetence, corruption, anti-Semitism, and outright criminality were rife throughout the UN Secretariat. Among the shady activities that he personally observed or documented were rigged bidding for major service contracts; drug transactions conducted in the UN’s parking garage; sale of shotguns and beryllium directly out of the UN building; ties to global organized crime figures; use of UN Information Centers and other agencies to disseminate anti-US and pro-PLO propaganda; systematic theft and abuse of UN facilities and budgets in East Africa; graft and corruption in Vienna; widespread sexual harrassment; use of the UN employee’s lounge to plan anti-Israel and anti-US activities by Muslim delegates; open celebration of 9/11 by said delegates in the halls of the UN; and inexplicable tolerance of all of the above on the part of the secretary general and the US government.

Sanjuan’s cast of characters includes every secretary general from Kurt Waldheim to Kofi Annan, and a large number of bureaucratic rogues and scoundrels. Much of what he documents in The UN Gang is absurdly comical. But its seriousness should not be overlooked.

Ultimately, Sanjuan argues, the weakness and corruption of the UN is our own responsibility. During the Cold War, the superpowers conspired to render it a useless forum for international pronouncements and posturing. Now, however, it has become the focal point of global resistance to American interests and policies. Will we continue to host an unholy convention of anti-Semitic, America-hating hypocrites? Or will we take steps to reform this once-proud institution and make it serve the ends of peace, justice, and international order? Only time will tell.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Books (20 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385513194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385513197
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,661,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pestilential swamp 2 Jun 2006
In his compelling expose', the author reveals the incompetence and the criminal activities of this accursed organization as he experienced it for more than a decade from 1984. In an acerbic and humorous style, he lifts the lid on the massive waste perpetrated by the useless and often devious parasites that infest Turtle Bay and other UN offices worldwide. As such, Sanjuan provides us with a lively portrait of the nature and habits of the denizens of this reeking swamp.

Waste and incompetence are the least of it, unfortunately. Drug dealing, theft, nepotism, large-scale corruption, espionage, the selling of weapons and the manufacturing of propaganda against the USA and Israel are some of the other activities observed by the author. Sanjuan mentions the names of certain individuals and the figures involved in some instances of corruption.

In the 1980s, the Secretariat was dominated by Soviet spies who also completely controlled the UN library. Since the end of the Cold War the influence of Islamic extremists has increased. He suggests that attacks against Israel and the US might even have been planned at the UN. It seems plausible that UN employees helped to gather information for the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. On 9/11, certain staff openly gloated about the atrocity.

Most disturbing of all is the rampant Antisemitism that permeates the organization at all levels. Shocked by what he observed, the author made it his duty to try to combat and expose this sinister obsession of the UN. Sanjuan deals with Waldheim, Perez de Cuellar, Boutros Ghali and Kofi Annan. The
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard to believe its true! 11 Jan 2006
Its hard to believe the personal account of the author. A former FBI agent, he is appointed by the US Government to head up the department of political affairs during the cold war. I read the full text but you can probably get the most out of the book by reading chapters 9-14. The complex machine of the UN and its relationship with the US Government is interesting. The author provokes serious thought in the mind of the reader - sometimes the truth is so far fetched it seems difficult to believe. This is not an academic text. The author has a specific humour which appeals to me but some readers may not connect with it. Humour is probably his coping mechanism for working/surviving within the UN Secretariat. The author raises the possibilities of the UN Headquarters being used as an oasis for the militants behind the 911 attacks in New York and Washington. The rational being that the UN building is above the scruitiny of the FBI and other federal or US government (or any other government's) powers or authority. The UN continues to behave itself unseemly in an ugly blatent manner. Amen for honesty in print.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very illuminating 14 Sep 2005
By Jill Malter - Published on
When I was much younger, I had a high regard for the United Nations. I liked their postage stamps. I thought that they did a good job with international tasks such as eliminating smallpox and at least a useful one with, say, Planned Parenthood.

Still, I had to notice that the UN was not very effective in times of conflict. Whether the conflicts were in Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, or Europe, the UN always seemed helpless at best. In 1974, when Arafat was applauded there, I began to have more serious doubts about how it was doing. And within a few years, the values of its postage stamps fell dramatically. For me, that was confirmation that the UN itself was of very low value. And since then, I've been in favor of getting rid of it. I think it is just too perverse to be of much help to the people of this planet. We could replace it by restricting ourselves to sets of bilateral agreements, or by creating ad hoc single-issue international organizations, issue by issue (to avoid building up too much esteem, which would permit their perversion). We could also have competing advice-giving organizations that could stand or fall on their own merits (poor ones would go out of business).

Well, just how bad is the UN? This book gives us an idea about the UN, and the Secretariat in particular. Incredibly, the Secretariat employs over 6000 people and costs over 2 billion dollars per year. And I may be biased, but I find it hard to believe that it serves any useful purpose at all.

Sanjuan describes the amount of Soviet influence and control in the Secretariat, which extended to, for example, the UN library. By the way, one of the few people the author has kind words for is the present US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. Among other things, Bolton helped get the infamous UN resolution repealed that equated Zionism and racism.

The author describes some of the endemic anti-semitism at the UN. To me, it seems surreal. It is a little like hearing that the UN is against Martians, and that many people there suspect that quite a few of the people they meet are related to Martians, or are Martian-lovers, or are friends of Martians. And that there is a vast Martian conspiracy to run the United States or worse. In any case, these sorts of fantasies can't be productive. In addition, they have to be bad for real live Jews, even though such people rarely resemble the fantasy ones. And the assault on rationality, sanity, and truth has to be bad as well.

Sanjuan describes some of the ways that the UN wastes money. But I think that may be the least of its problems.

The book finishes with ten modest recommendations from the author. He's against UN Secretariat's nepotism, conflicts of interest, antisemitism, racism, moonlighting, contacts with local and international crime, corruption, espionage, and support for terrorism. And he thinks that members of the Secretariat that engage in them "ought to be relieved of their posts." That's nice, but I think the UN is unsalvageable. We humans do not need it, we can do better without it, and if we really need to, we can create a much better organization than the UN.

This book is very readable, and I highly recommend it.
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Rebuke for the U.N. 16 Sep 2005
By 4history - Published on
Sanjuan has laid bare the anti-Americanism, the incompetence and the tower of hypocrisy that has become the United Nations. Far from its original intent as an institution born out of the need to confront hatred and inhumanity, the UN now embodies those very evils. The Oil for Food scandal apparently is just the tip of the corruption iceberg. Thankfully Sanjuan's book is giving us the necessary specifics if any clean-up is going to take place.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In support of The UN Gang 12 Jan 2006
By Sevile - Published on
I'd like to respond to some reviewer criticisms of The UN Gang.

Indeed, as noted in Publisher's Weekly, Sanjuan eludes to a possible connection between the 2001 World Trade Center and Pentagon bombings and intelligence gathering at the UN while giving no evidence to support this hypothesis. But should we scoff at this as the Publisher's Weekly reviewer does? Sanjuan demonstrates in his memoir that the UN's New York offices (off limit to U. S. law enforcement) were utilized as a huge intelligence gathering post for first the Soviet Union and afterward for Russia. He also shows a UN propensity toward coddling Islamists. Lastly he notes the importance intelligence played in targeting the buildings at their most vulnerable locations. Should we not be concerned about the possibility of the UN being a haven for hostile intelligence gathering and could this not have consequences for us in the future? If Sanjuan overstates the case for a 9/11 connection, he does it to call attention to an important and neglected security issue.

Another criticism worth addressing is Sanjuan's accusation of anti-Semitism regarding the transfer of the Chagall stained glass mural from the UN employee entrance. One thing that the critic above (A reader - New York City) does not address is that Sanjuan paraphrases the UN Secretary General as admonishing "that was not what the UN was about" after having the window moved from a prominent location in the employee entrance to a location in the visitor entrance. The implication is that the UN director felt the staff should not have to pass by a work of art by a Jewish artist. This is quite plausibly an instance of anti-Semitism.

Other claims in the book that seem worth noting have been neglected by reviewers. For example, there are accusations against the U. S. State Department. One accusation is the toleration of a massive Soviet spy ring at the UN by spies hiding behind diplomatic and territorial immunity. Another is long standing complaisance of the State Department to anti-Semetism extending from the 1960's to its present toleration of anti-Semitism at the UN. A third is the State Department's punishing and firing a member of the UN budget oversight committee (Linda Shenwick of the ACABQ) after she exposed unbridled corruption at the UN while testifying before congress.

As other reviewers have noted: the book isn't full of numbers and exhaustive research, it does not give a detailed plan for saving the UN, and the writing often embellishes events. But then it never claimed to be an academic treatise. It fulfills its claim to be a memoir of incompetence, corruption, anti-Semitism and Islamic extremism at the UN Secretariat.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener for the blind 9 Jan 2006
By J. Adams - Published on
If you are still under some delusion that the UN is anything but the most corrupt, inept, and ineffective organization in the history of modern society, you need to read this book. Admittedly I have worked with several of the members of the current hierarchy of the UN, so I may be somewhat prejudiced because i know from experience that they are beyond hope, but Sanjuan writes about previous regimes, and doesn't get into the current band of incompetents who waste billions of dollars every year in the name of "peace" while doing nothing but prevent proper oversight of programs which only enable tyrants and criminals to continue their corrupt raping and pillaging of nations all over the globe. The sad part of this book is that it does not include the most recent revelations of the Anan regime, where billions in the "oil for fraud" programs were siphoned off by criminals grand and petty without regard to the original mission and idealism of the UN.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Core Competencies blah, blah .. 27 Feb 2006
By George Irakis - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Pretty accurate and entertaining. Especially amusing if you happen to work there and read about what you already knew happens at the UN.
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